Google, Meta and Twitter must publish party spending on social media during the election campaign

Andrea Boscaro, contributor to The Vortex, talks about Professor Marco Mayer’s proposal to make available social media advertising investments by candidates and parties in these weeks of the election campaign

The proposal, submitted Startmag by Professor Marco Mayer, the availability of social media advertising investment by candidates and parties in these election campaign weeks is so necessary that it deserves to be spread and deepened.

It is so necessary that the European Commission itself, in a reform proposal it presented last November, in view of the upcoming elections for the European Parliament, intended to give greater transparency, so that not only digital platforms, but also political actors and media centers, to take into account the investments made in social and digital advertising campaigns and to report on the profiling criteria adopted at the same time, recommending limiting, in this activity, the use of artificial intelligence as a way of reducing human control in the targeting options of accepting the advertising messages.

It is also a proposal worth studying in depth because Professor Mayer includes platforms that currently do not offer tools such as the Ad Library that Meta was asked to introduce after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and which allows, socially and politically, to observe programming and the advertising investments of candidates, movements and parties.

However, the availability of such a timely interface should not hide the difficulties in using it: the advertising profiles monitored are in fact over 52,000 in Italy alone and the sensitivity of the investment centers (national party profiles, individual candidates, support , of the local offices …) does not facilitate a complete picture of the planned investments.

This difficulty adds to the opacity that social media advertising campaigns can enjoy when they make use of automated systems: the micro-targeting that results from the use of demographic and personal data and from the combination of interests and behaviors can only be achieved thanks to automation and machine learning techniques that are beyond control possible with interfaces like Ad Library.

To make things simpler, maybe TikTok contributes, which, by its own choice, has abandoned the collection of political ads, although it is clear to everyone how, in recent years, it has been able to give voice to forms of political activism and support the mobilization of activists and members in alternative cultures.

If until a few months ago, the only Italian political leader present was Matteo Salvini, for a few months Giuseppe Conte has also been active on the platform, although he knows the minimum possible control of the videos published, since the latter can they are commented by critics with Duets and Stitch, two types of videos that, on TikTok, can mimic the messages that were originally released.

The controversy that followed in the last days the comments made by Elodie on Giorgia Meloni’s political program shows then how much the election campaign should be monitored on social media not only on the profiles of the candidates, but also observing the role that this played. summer from celebrities and influencers.

The election campaign has just started and, due to its brevity and the distribution of the population away from the cities for the summer period, will undoubtedly make it even more present on social media: greater transparency in their use could therefore be a further way to be participatory and sensitized.

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