EU proposal: Apps and sites should show why users see political ad

The European Commission is proposing rules to enforce more transparency in political advertisements. For example, users must be able to see how much a party has paid for an advertisement and on the basis of which the user is targeted.

Targeting based on, among other things, ethnic background, religion or sexual orientation will be banned if the proposal is adopted, the European Commission reports. Only if users give explicit permission to target advertisements on one of those factors, that is allowed. There would be exceptions for certain organizations.

It should become clear to users exactly why they see certain advertisements. For example, platforms such as Facebook and Google must make it clear who the advertisement is aimed at and which method the organization or party has used to spread the message. The sender must be clearly visible.

The European Commission considers the new rules necessary to prevent manipulation during elections. “New technologies should be tools for empowerment, not manipulation. This proposal would bring an unprecedented level of transparency and limit vague targeting techniques.”

For now, this is a proposal. It is unknown if, in what form and when the new rules should come into effect. It is also unclear how platforms should display the information about political advertisements.