The Wall Street Journal says that Facebook is considering taking steps to limit micro-targeting – the practice of allowing advertisers to send individual ads to just a hundred or so users.
If such a move happens then it will be a response to the pressure the platform is feeling from politicians and activists across the world and the moves made by rivals Twitter and Google in recent weeks.
The proposal, according to the WSJ, would be to raise the minimum number of user targets to a few thousand. That would still allow a high degree of granulation – the ability to target ad recipients based on refined characteristics such as personal likes or geographic location. It isn’t the same as Google’s proposal to limit targeting to age, gender and postcode.
If it happens, this is once again a small responsive step from the biggest platform. What we are still missing is the big picture – where do they see their advertising policy being in five years time and how do they respond to the calls from around the world to make political adverts more transparent and, well, truthful. It would be great if Facebook would set out this vision for us rather than scattershot, incremental steps.
Incidentally, this video of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen ripping into the big platforms whilst receiving an award from the US Anti Defamation League is well worth watching in full.