Ever wondered just how much a problem Facebook might be for American democracy? Well, here’s a little hint. The online publication, The Stranger, recently paired with the advocacy research group, ProPublica, to produce a database of all the “dark ads” appearing in American media. Notes The Stranger, “Such ads were used by Russians during their operation to influence the 2016 US presidential election, and they've been used here in Seattle's municipal elections, too.”
Great idea, wouldn’t you say? In fact, Even Facebook itself suggested it was probably a good thing, until...
Facebook then announced that it was working to shut down the project. Notes the Stranger, “Facebook's rationale for doing this is that a ProPublica-designed web browser plugin—one that allowed participants all over America to automatically collect and send in the targeting information for Facebook political ads that were aimed at them—is the kind of plugin that can create information safety issues.”
Or, to put it another way, the plugin might reveal the names of people who pay for ads on Facebook, not something that Facebook, its management, or shareholders...not to mention the ad buyers themselves...were really eager to see happen.