Political Scholars, NGOs Call on Facebook, Digital Industry to Support Rules for Political Campaigns

Jeff Chester

Released on September 22, 2017 at a political microtargeting conference held in Amsterdam, in response to the recent announcement by Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg on changes to how they conduct political ad campaigns.

Dear Mark,

Your statements on Facebook’s new policies for political advertising were issued as we started a global symposium on micro-targeting in Amsterdam ( (link is external)). We are a group of leading international academic experts and civil society representatives from the fields of law, communication, political science and economics who are conducting research on political targeting.

Fairness, equality and democratic oversight are key in democratic societies. We appreciate the initiative you have taken and strongly encourage further dialogue and action. Moving this forward we strongly believe that the principles of transparency and disclosure are essential. Facebook should share publicly the full range of paid political contents, disclose the sponsoring actors, and identify the categories of target audiences. This should be done globally as this is an issue that affects elections worldwide. We encourage you and other platforms and actors to join this dialogue to contribute principles for transparency and disclosure.

Transparency is a first step in the right direction. Digital political advertising operates in a dynamic tension between data and humans, commerce and politics, power and participation. Some of these tensions can be resolved by transparency, others not. The way forward is to engage with governments, regulators, election monitoring bodies, civil society and academics to develop public policies and guidelines for ensuring fairness, equality, and democratic oversight in digital political campaigns.

Can we count on you?

Natali Helberger

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

Claes de Vreese

Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam

Balazs Bodo

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

Mauricio Moura

George Washington University

Max von Grafenstein

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin

Jessica Schmeiss

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

Sabrina Sassi

Universite Laval

Tom Dobber

Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam

Jeff Chester

Center for Digital Democracy, Washington, DC

Kathryn Montgomery

American University, Washington, DC

André Haller

Institut für Kommmunikationswissenschaft, Universität Bamberg

Damian Tambini

Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science

Simon Krischinski

Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mains

Daniel Kreiss

School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill