Lewis made a decision to file his campaigning lawsuit after reporting 50 fake ads himself, having been alerted to the level of the problem by consumers getting in touch with him to ask if the advertisements were genuine or not. But the revelation that there were in truth associated “thousands” of artificial ads being run on Facebook as a clickdriver for scams shows the business must change its entire system, he has now argued.
In a reply declaration after Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer revealed the new data-point to the DCMS committee, Lewis wrote: “It really is creepy to hear that there have been 1,000s of adverts. “Facebook allows marketers to use what’s called ‘dark advertisements’. This means these are targeted only at set individuals and are not shown in a right time collection. That means no way is had by me of knowing about them. I get to hear about them never.
So how on earth could I record them? It’s not my job to police Facebook. As Schroepfer informed it to the committee, Facebook had removed the additional “thousands” of ads “proactively” – but as Lewis highlights that action is actually irrelevant given the problem is systemic. “A one off cleansing, only of ads with my name in, isn’t good enough.
It must change its whole system,” he published. The committee elevated various ‘dark ads’-related issues with Schroepfer – asking how, as with the Lewis example, a person could complain about an advertisement they can’t see literally? But there’s a very big different between being able to technically see every ad running on the platform – and literally being able to see every ad running on the platform. In its PR about the new tools Facebook says a new feature – called “view ads” – will let users start to see the ads a Facebook Page is working, even if that Page’s advertisements haven’t appeared in an individual’s News Feed. So that’s one small concession.
However, while ‘view advertisements’ will connect with every advertiser Page on Facebook, a Facebook user must find out about the Page still, navigate to it and click to ‘view advertisements’. What Facebook is not releasing is a public, searchable archive of most ads on its system. It’s only doing that for a sub-set of ads – specially those labeled “Political Ad”.
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Clearly the Martin Lewis fakes wouldn’t fit into that category. So Lewis won’t be able to run searches against his name or face in future to try to identify new dark artificial Facebook ads that want to trick consumers into scams by misappropriating his brand. Instead, he’d have to hire an enormous team of people to click “view ads” on every advertiser Page on Facebook – and do so constantly, as long as his brand can last – to try to stay ahead of the scammers. So unless Facebook radically expands the ad transparency tools it offers announced so far it’s really not offering any kind of fix for the dark fake ads problem whatsoever.
Not for Lewis. Nor indeed for any other personality or brand that’s being quietly misused in the hidden bulk of scams we can only just guess are transferring across its platform. Kremlin-backed politics disinformation scams are just the tip of the iceberg here really. But even for the reason that narrow instance Facebook estimated there have been 80, 000 pieces of fake content directed at just one election.
The committee asked Schroepfer whether Facebook retains money from advertisers it ejects from its platform for working ‘bad advertisements’ – i.e. after finding an ad was being run by them its terms prohibit. He said he wasn’t sure, and promised to check out up with a remedy. Which rather suggests it doesn’t have a genuine policy. Mostly it’s happy to collect your advertisement spend. “I do think we are trying to catch many of these things pro-actively. “We think of individuals reporting things, we are trying to get to a mode as time passes – especially with technical systems – that can catch this stuff in advance,” he added.
“We want to get to a setting where people reporting bad content of any sort is the sort of defense of last resort and that almost all this stuff is caught up front by automated systems. Trying, want to, future… aka zero guarantees that the parallel world he was describing will ever align with the reality of how Facebook’s business actually functions – the following, right now.
In truth this kind of contextual AI content review is a very hard problem, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has himself accepted. And it’s in no way certain the business can develop sturdy systems to properly police this kind of stuff. Definitely not without hiring orders of magnitude more individual reviewers than it’s currently focused on doing. It would need to employ literally millions more humans to manually check all the nuanced things AIs simply won’t be able to find out. 11.97BN in revenue) – Internet surfers are remaining performing unpaid moderation for a massively wealthy for-profit business while simultaneously being at the mercy of the bogus and fraudulent content its system is also distributing at scale.