Today, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Director of Product Management Rob Leathern, and Product Marketing Director Emma Rodgers spoke with members of the media about new steps Facebook is taking to bring more transparency to ads and Pages. The executives spoke at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, and were streamed to Facebook offices in New York City, Sao Paulo, Washington D.C. and Mexico City, where local reporters gathered. The following is a transcript of their remarks and the Q&A that followed.
Sheryl Sandberg: Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for coming in — we really appreciate your time and interest. Today’s announcements are part of what we consider a really big shift at Facebook in how we think about responsibility as a company. I think a lot of you are writing about this and covering this. We spent the first decade, 12 years, really focused on building social experiences and what we’ve learned across a number of really hard issues from election interference to fake news to data privacy is that we underinvested in prevention and we underinvested in proactively policing the ecosystem that we had built.
So we are taking and have been taking many strong steps which you all have covered, and see, across many of these issues to address them. One of the reasons I was excited to join you today is that I think one of the absolutely most important things we can do across any issue we’re having, and across making sure that our ecosystem and the people using our platform are doing the things they should be doing and not doing the things they shouldn’t be doing is really increasing transparency. And today our announcement is about bringing more transparency for ads and Pages. We believe really deeply in transparency because we believe it leads to changes in behavior.
I’m old enough, and at least one or two of you are old enough, to remember when it was considered absolutely a crazy thing to put your real identity online. Right, the famous New Yorker cartoon that’s still my favorite cartoon where you have the dog at the computer and he’s like: “on the internet, no one knows he’s a dog.” At the period when I was joining Facebook which was only 10 years ago, seems like a lifetime ago, I remember putting myself on Facebook with my real picture and it was like, “oh my god,” it was a really big thing. But what we found, and what I think a lot of other people have found — news sites that have gone from anonymous comments to comments where people have to log in – is that while certainly there is still bad behavior with your real identity, there is less. That real identity is something that gets people to behave — not always, but better.
One of my favorite quotes was from an editor of a magazine and I’ll read it, he wrote “trolls don’t like their friends to know they’re trolls.” And he was reacting to something I think he or one of his friends – they had taken all their comments and taken them from being anonymous to you had to log in — and he noted that the civility and quality of the discourse had increased dramatically.
Now in the past several months we’ve gone through and taken many steps to put more transparency around what we’re doing and the goal of all of these is to affect change. I think that happens in three ways. The first, by being more transparent, we get more input from experts in our community. So we have long published our Community Standards, which are the guidelines by which something can stay on or come off Facebook. We took the pretty unusual step a few months ago of publishing the internal guidelines that we use for the teams that are working on those Community Standards.
You know, these things are hard decisions. What is free expression for some people — and free expression is something we deeply believe in – can be hate for another. And we want to find that balance between free expression and providing a really safe community. And so those internal guidelines, which are many, many Pages of how we make those determinations — we published publicly — we had already shared them with many experts around the world and had gotten feedback. But by publishing them publicly – they were open to anyone – we could get more feedback. And we believe that people around the world and experts will continue to see and contribute to what we do. And we’ve been grateful for that.
The second thing transparency does is it really holds us accountable. And we think that’s really important. So we put out our transparency report for the first time, and if you all saw it, it shows how much violating content was there, how much we removed, and importantly, how much we were able to remove proactively. So with adult sexual imagery, we are able to remove almost all of it before anyone sees it, with hate speech, more is getting reported to us.
Obviously our goal is to get it all down as quickly as possible, ideally before anyone sees it, but by sharing with you the amount of what is out there and what we find, the prevalence, and what percentage we’re able to get to ourselves versus what needed to be reported – we believe that helps hold us accountable by putting those numbers out to the public. We’ve also published for many years the data on the government requests for data from us and our response rate of those.
We’re very close to sharing our fifth year of diversity data – our diversity numbers are not what we want them to be. We know we are struggling. But by putting those numbers out publicly, we hold ourselves accountable year after year.
We’ve also done this in unusual places that we haven’t seen others do, but we’d like them to do, which is we put our bias training, out there, publicly. And we published our sexual harassment policy. Not because we think either are perfect, but because actually a lot of small companies that don’t have the resources to develop bias training or develop sexual harassment policy were asking for help, and we thought by sharing, small companies who need this can get it. But also, if we published and other people published there would be more of a conversation around it and our policies would improve.
The third thing we think transparency does is it really helps us to find and fix problems. It would be ideal if you could find everything ourselves. But we never will. So when we build tools that enable people to find things, when we set up a bug bounty program where people can refer stuff, when journalists find things and write articles about them and make us aware of them – all of these opportunities are times for us to find those things and take them down.
The hope of the announcement today is that it will hold us accountable, it will hold advertisers accountable – but it will also give people a lot more ability to find things that maybe shouldn’t be up. Or find things that might be misleading so that we can take actions.
So with the background of why we’re doing this — and I wanted to have a chance to talk to you about transparency and some of the steps we’ve already taken — today we announce our latest steps. And these are around ads on Facebook. Our ultimate goal is very simple: we want to reduce bad ads, we want to make sure that people understand what they’re seeing, who paid for it, and the fullness of what other people might see.
Starting today, you can go to any Page on Facebook and see the ads that Page is running. Whether they are running on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or on our partner network. Importantly, even if the ads are not targeted to you.
You were always able to see ads that were targeted to you — but they were in News Feed so sometimes you would see them and sometimes you’d miss them — but you would’t be able to see ads running in a different state or ads targeted to a different demographic that you are not in. And today all of that becomes transparent.
We’re also getting you more information to learn about Pages, so you can understand who is behind that content and who is behind those ads. We are starting with the date the Page was created and any name changes, and we’re working on adding other information and making that transparent as well.
With today’s announcements, and the steps we have already taken, we are providing much more transparency than any other advertising platform, either online or offline. We know that this means that people are going to find things that are misleading and that should not be on Facebook and report those to us, and we want people to understand who is paying for what they see. We also believe that advertisers and us should be held responsible and accountable for the content and ads.
And in all of this I want to be really clear – the great great majority of people who are doing things on Facebook, running ads and building Pages, are legitimate organizations with great purposes. These are businesses that are growing their businesses and finding consumers. I was just in LA meeting with some of the groups that are working on Facebook and some of the people that are just building incredible communities to help people. So there are so many good actors all over the world.
But we’ve also seen the bad actors use our products too. And these changes will make it much easier for us and people who use our platforms to root out abuse. Today’s changes are just some of the steps we are taking – we know there is more to do and we’re going to continue to share updates in the coming months. So, I am going to turn it over to Emma and Rob.
Emma Rodgers: Hello, everyone. I’m Emma and I’m on our Pages team. As Sheryl shared, we’re committed to doing things differently, and making sure that our products are being used for good. Part of that is bringing more transparency to the Pages that people interact with. Back in April, we shared that we worked to provide people with more context about the Pages on Facebook in order to help them more effectively assess their content. And now today, I am excited to share that we’re introducing a new section on Pages called Info and Ads.
In this new section, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about a Page than you could learn yesterday, regardless of whether or not that Page is advertising. I’m going to take you through a quick demo to give you a sense of how the product works.
To get to this new section, you can visit any Page on Facebook. And from there, you click on the Info and Ads button on the Page’s cover photo. From here, you’ll see the date the Page was created and its history of name changes. Now, with this information, people will be able to better understand the purpose for which the Page was originally created and they’ll be able to better understand the origin content they’re seeing from Pages on Facebook.
Now this is just the beginning. We’re going to be adding more information to this section in the coming weeks. And now, I’m going to hand it over to Rob who’s going to share more with us about how we’re bringing transparency to ads on Facebook.
Rob Leathern: Thanks, Emma. Hi, I’m Rob and I’m on our ads team. As we work to share more context and information about Pages and the people who are managing it, we’re also building tools to hold advertisers accountable for the content that they share on the platform, we’ve heard from people that they want a more complete picture of the ads on Facebook, not just the ones that are being shown to them.
As of today, everyone, as Sheryl mentioned, can see active ads on Facebook. We began testing this feature in Canada to show the ads a Page is currently running, we listened also to how people were interacting and using this feature and we updated it. For example with the ability to filter ads by country. Now you can go to any Page, you can see which ads they’re running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network.
Here’s how it works. You go to the Page, you touch the active ads section, and your going to be able to see all of the ads, including the creative and the copy that the ads have. You’ll also be able to touch or click on the call to action. For example, in this case, learn more and go to the landing Page that the advertiser is intending to send you to. You also are able to scroll through the ads, you can then select the country drop down and you’ll see the other countries that that advertiser is running ads in and you can see the ads are running in that country, in this case Canada, for example, versus the US.
For any ad you can touch the top right-hand corner and report the ad if you think that it is something that shouldn’t be on Facebook or might be violating one of our ads policies. Just to be clear there are two ways in which we review ads. There’s a proactive review every time someone submits an ad. We review it with artificial intelligence and human review and then if someone flags an ad, like in this case, we would then potentially do a reactive review that would then take a look at the ad. We would only take an ad down if it violates our policy. We have safeguards in place to prevent people from just reporting ads that they don’t like.
We are continuing to evolve this work. One of the very important areas where there is additional transparency and additional safeguards is the area of political ads transparency. We recently employed authorization labelling and archiving to ads with political content in the United States. The other thing that we’re announcing today is the next step in this which is expanding to Brazil. We plan to bring this product to Brazil next, allowing advertisers who are running electoral ads in Brazil to include a “paid for by” disclaimer.
We recognize that it is our responsibility to help people learn more about the political content they are interacting with on Facebook. We will continue to take more steps to do so. We are also very eager to get feedback from third parties, people using the product and watchdog groups, to understand how we can continue to evolve these products. With that I’d like to thank everyone again for being here. We are happy to take people’s questions and hear your feedback.
Moderator: Thanks, Rob. We’re going to start with questions here in Menlo Park.
Sheera Frankel, New York Times: Are the ads that are going to be visible, are they starting today or are they retroactive, meaning will they go back over the course of the last month — and how long do you plan to keep this going for?
Sheryl Sandberg: If you go to where the Pages are, it’s starting today and then it will be what ads are live. If you’re looking for an archive, we are building up an archive of ads with political issue content and promoted news. That’s a seven-year archive that will build up over seven years, starting from when the archive launches, because we don’t have the data.
Sheera Frankel: One quick follow up then, is there any plan to potentially make this retroactive and show what Pages have been running in the past?
Sheryl Sandberg: If they fall into the political or issue ads or the promoted news bucket, so they’re going into that archive, once we build up there will be seven years of data available at any one time, once we build up to seven years. So then you’ll be able to see that for seven years.
Sheera Frankel: Ok, but not, let’s say, from a year ago or two years ago?
Sheryl Sandberg: We don’t have those plans. These are a lot of steps on transparency. There are lots of ways we can do even more. These are the first steps we are going to take and then if we need to do more we are always open to that.
Kevin Roose, New York Times: Two questions, one is why not do the archiving that you’re doing for political ads for all ads? Is that in your roadmap? And in the archive and other transparency tools and on this new info ads section, will there be the ability to see which groups an ad was targeted to, or at least general demographics or location?
Sheryl Sandberg: For the ads that are in the archive, you will be able to see some general targeting information as part of the archive. We’re not making that available as part of the Pages tool right now and we’ll consider it going forward. This is a pretty big project to launch so we’re going to get this launched and see what else we want to do.
Moderator: Our next question will be from our Mexico office. And one bit of housekeeping: if you could introduce yourself and the outlet you’re with we would appreciate it.
Carlos Fernandez de Lara, Espansión: Do you talk with the advertisers about these kinds of new features, about releasing information on their Pages? I wanted to understand what has been their reaction? Probably some of them would be worried maybe about what the users know about all the ads. I also wanted to understand, you mentioned that the user will be able to see if the ads are running not only on Facebook but also Instagram and any other platform that Facebook owns. How is it going to work? Once I’m inside the app, then I’m going to see in which social network those are running?
Sheryl Sandberg: On the first, we definitely let advertisers know this is coming. I would say the majority of them they were very positive and that they understood why we are trying to get our platform to be more transparent. They stand behind the ads they’re putting up and they understand this. There’s definitely some out there with concern. It’s mainly concern that their competitors are going to then see all of their ads, and it just may make it easier for their competitors to see what kind of ads they are running. But for the most part, we think people have been very supportive.
Rob Leathern: On the second question, when you go into the active ads sections on mobile or desktop, you can see all the ads that that entity is running whether they are running on Facebook, Instagram, etc. The are all rendered in feed format so the ads have a consistent look. The way in which they actually show up, and there’s a little disclaimer in there as well, the way they actually show up on Instagram might be slightly different than they would look in the News Feed. But all the ads are there so you can see a consistent view for that particular advertiser. And then you can report any of the ads from that surface as well.
Moderator: Our next question will be in New York.
Donie O’Sullivan, CNN: My question is for Sheryl. It’s been three months since the Cambridge Analytica story broke and in that time Facebook has repeatedly said and named the data scientist Alex Kogan as having lied to Facebook. Kogan’s business partner in his dealings with Cambridge Analytica was Joseph Chancellor, who is a current Facebook employee. Facebook told us in March that the company was investigating Chancellor, they told the UK Parliament again in May that they were investigating Chancellor, I just wonder if after three months if there’s an update in that investigation? If it has concluded, then what are the findings? And if the investigation is still ongoing, does Chancellor have access to Facebook’s internal systems?
Sheryl Sandberg: We don’t have an update on this. We take any allegations of any possible misconduct very seriously and we’re doing thorough investigations, whether that’s someone who’s working with us in any capacity. Sorry we don’t have an update.
Moderator: Our next question will be from Brazil.
Nelson de Sá, Folha de S. Paulo: With Facebook and Google ads here in the presidential campaign, will we be able to see how much is being spent on each ad?
Rob Leathern: We’re using the existing US launch as a base. Since this is new, as you mentioned, in Brazil, for the ads on Facebook, we’re going to be learning together. So I think what we are going to be doing, is we’ll be announcing more details in the coming weeks, what’s included and what’s not included, and what might be different. We’ve obviously been in contact with the regulators and continue to get feedback from the people in the market as well. So more details will be forthcoming on that.
Glenn Chapman, AFP: If you can expand a little bit on that, you say there’s going to be more in the future, but can you kind of give us an example of what. What’s the impediment? When’s it going to roll out to other countries? I’m sure other countries would like the transparency in political ads. The whole other conversation from this morning on, as you go through this transparency effort, how do you appease the concerns of publishers who think news stories about politics are getting kind of jumbled in with ads and then addressing this issue of credibility, believability? It’s causing concerns from them.
Sheryl Sandberg: On the news, on including promoted news in this archive, this was a really hard decision. And we debated a lot internally and we understand there are a lot of concerns. What we are not doing is claiming that if a newspaper runs an article and they promote it, that is a political ad. We are not labeling it a political ad, we are not saying it’s a political ad. We understand that these things are different.
We had a choice to make about how broad do you paint the transparency brush. There are lots of news articles that have political content in them. A friend of mine just wrote a book about President Carter. Those ads for those books also are going to be in the transparency thing because they have a president in there so as you’re trying to search for things that are political, obviously anything with political content gets flagged. We had a choice including them or not. We decided that our goal is transparency and so we are just erring on the side of being more transparent. Because of the concerns that these new publishers raised, we just launched a separate place for those, where it’s clearly labeled “this is promoted news,” so no one will get confused that we’re claiming these are political ads. We’re not. In order to be transparent, if people want to see all the things that are happening that have any political content anywhere on the site, we decided that it was better to just be broader and more inclusive because then people can see everything. It was a hard decision.
Rob Leathern: I think the question was around launching to other countries, considerations, etc. If you look at what we released in the US, obviously it requires people to authorize, to provide identity information etc. It’s a non-trivial exercise to make sure we can do the same thing in other markets. There’s also different regulations and requirements that different countries might have of information that they want to be shared in terms of who paid for the advertisement. We have to take a deliberate approach to expanding to other countries, so that’s what we’re doing. Again, as I mentioned we are looking for feedback not only from third parties, watchdog groups and regulators in those countries, but also from the people who are using the existing products like the transparency tools that we’ve made available in the US, for example. We are really learning a lot of things from how people are using that and we definitely encourage everyone to go in there and search for things. I think you’ll see us continue to evolve and especially in the case of Brazil because this is new for everyone in terms of online ads, we’ll be learning together.
Glenn Chapman, AFP: Any other countries on the horizon?
Rob Leathern: I don’t know that we are sharing that right now.
Sheryl Sandberg: We are trying to get there, we understand people want it. We’re certainly trying to prioritize things for elections, hence Brazil. Moving as quickly as we can. These things are big data projects. It’s a lot of work on the back end to do this.
Steven Levy, WIRED/Backchannel: So I know its very early, you’ve only done this in Canada, but I wonder if either you’ve done research or you can point to any, to know that while of course transparency is a good thing, that it might actually change the behavior and people will send fewer bad ads, instead of just saying, “well, we’ll send bad ads out there and if people call us our later, then so what?”
Sheryl Sandberg: There’s going to be some of both, but I have yet to see where making things transparent didn’t change behavior at all. A story we have from our history which is a pretty interesting story, and this was done when Marne Levine was running global policy, we had these issues where we had a bunch of Pages that were pretty misogynistic, but a lot of them had your basic rap lyrics on them. It’s complicated. I have very strong feelings about what is hate towards women, and there was a bunch of stuff that was hate that we took down, and there was a bunch of stuff that was just cruel, but it wasn’t quite hate. So we went to a policy for those Pages of no anonymous cruelty.
It’s very important in our system that for some Pages you still can be anonymous. Because if you’re in the Arab Spring and you’re fighting the government, you need to be able to do things anonymously. But for a whole host of Pages that we identified years ago as cruel, and there were a lot of them that were cruel towards women, we just said, “no anonymous cruelty, put your name on it.” I forget the numbers, but it was more than 80% of those Pages just came down. They just came down. Once they had to be associated with it, we’re not going to do it. And the ones that stayed up, what you got was real debate, with people arguing with that person, saying, “I saw what you wrote and that’s not funny at all.” I think we have seen a lot from our experience and that’s one from our history, which shows us that transparency really can lead to better behavior.
Moderator: We will take our next question from the New York office.
Ariana Tobin, ProPublica: Thanks for having us and taking questions today. This is for Sheryl and is related to where you started with the hate speech policies. There is certainly much more meat to the community guidelines and hate speech policies made public than there were six months ago. But I know that places like Motherboard and the Guardian and we have all been publishing stories recently that include some pretty striking details that were leaked about policies on Nazis and white supremacists and details that, in general, for a policy of transparency, people have found pretty relevant. These manuals keep being leaked, which suggests what you have up on site is a fairly superficial gloss for what the policies actually are. Why not make all of the training slides public?
Sheryl Sandberg: I’m going to disagree strongly that what we have up there is a superficial gloss. If you look at the Community Standards they’re pretty robust. If you look at the internal guidelines, I forget how many pages they were in the end but the last draft I saw was about thirty pages, so it’s pretty detailed. We are really always evolving training materials. I haven’t seen every single article on every single thing that’s been lost but certainly some of the ones I saw were things that were either taken out of context or were out of date, or were just bad training things. In order to release all of that publicly we’d have to go through it and make sure it’s current, etc. I don’t think any other company has come close to the amount of transparency we’ve put out, either in the ads system or in our guidelines. We can and should always do more and we’re going to continue on that, but I think we’re doing a lot and will continue to work on it.
Moderator: We’ll take our next question from our DC office.
Naomi Nix, Bloomberg: Could you talk a little bit about how Facebook plans to handle ads from nonprofit organizations that are promoting ideas that aren’t really what we’d think of as political but fall under some of those twenty issue ads? I’m thinking of a poverty organization or an organization teaching ESL classes but mentions immigration.
Sheryl Sandberg: This question is very much like the news question. There are political ads, which people usually think of as: I’m a candidate running for office and I am making an ad for this campaign. There are issue ads: issue ads can be on clean water, on girls empowerment. Issue ads can be on things that are very relevant to a specific election, from guns to reproductive rights, etc. Then there are non-profits doing work. Again, we’re not saying that all these things are political, we just chose to be as inclusive as possible so that everything would be transparent. We are not labeling them political ads, we’re just being as transparent as possible so that people can see everything. It gets hard to draw those lines. If you try to say, “okay, well this is from this kind of non-profit and this is from another — this is really political, this isn’t,” it gets really hard to draw those lines. Making it all transparent is more in the spirit of what we were trying to do and we thought would achieve a better outcome. For a lot of those nonprofits, people seeing their adds is very good for the work they’re doing.
Moderator: We’ll take our next question from New York.
Alex Heath, Cheddar: Sheryl, I wanted to go back to when you said that you’d heard feedback from advertisers about worrying about other advertisers being able to see their strategy on Facebook. You had mentioned that you don’t see user behavior necessarily changing with these new transparency tools, but do you think this could be a problem for advertisers who now, if I’m a big advertiser, I’m thinking my competitor can now dissect my Facebook strategy. Do you expect that to change how advertisers work with you as a partner?
Sheryl Sandberg: To be clear, we didn’t hear a lot of the feedback but we definitely heard some. I think advertisers for the most part stand behind the ads they’re running. You actually can see a lot of your competitor’s ads and it’s more just like you happen to catch them or they happen to be targeted to you. It’s not that these aren’t public facing things in the first place — advertising is always a public facing piece of content you put into the world. I don’t believe we will see a meaningful change in advertiser willingness to engage in our platform. I don’t expect that — we haven’t heard that.
Moderator: We have a time for a couple more questions. One from the room here.
Georgia Wells, Wall Street Journal: Have you released, or will you release how you are differing or selecting what is a political ad?
Rob Leathern: In the coming weeks we do plan to share some examples, which are going to be really helpful for people to understand. One of the things here is the issue ads especially that we are enforcing against, that we are looking for, it’s new. We’re working on making the training materials for reviewers more consistent. We’re working on artificial intelligence to catch these proactively and that will evolve and get better. We think the examples we provide will help people understand where they are on that spectrum.
Sheryl Sandberg: You certainly can see it, it is released in the sense that some are marked political, some are in that promoted news archive we mentioned. I believe we released the categories we are looking at for issue ads. Right?
Rob Leathern: Yes, there’s a list of twenty.
Sheryl Sandberg: Again, couldn’t do all of them, but tried to be more inclusive.
Sarah Frier, Bloomberg: Since there is such a broad swath of things that are being considered political ads…
Sheryl Sandberg: Sorry, we’re not considering them political ads, were making them transparent.
Sarah Frier: Yes. Since there is such a broad set of things that you’re making transparent, why not just extend that to all of the ads on Facebook where you wouldn’t have to make those hard choices between what is or isn’t an issue ad that you want to highlight? And second, do you expect that some of the interruptions in people being able to post ads this quarter will have any impact on Facebook’s revenue?
Sheryl Sandberg: Those are two really important questions. On the first, we are making all current ads transparent. We are taking that step, we’re just not building up the seven-year archive. Resources can only do so much at one time, so we’re trying to prioritize and get things done and get them done correctly.
On the second question, I don’t believe the delays people are experiencing will have a meaningful impact on revenue. But, and I really am glad to have a chance to talk about this, there are delays now. We had a system before where not as many things were manually reviewed. Things were reviewed quickly, automatically, everything got off right away. We’ve definitely gotten complaints from politicians that were running ads, who we sent the stuff to and they didn’t send it in on time and now their ads aren’t running. Or in the middle of very important public policy debates on meaningful issues, a news organization will try to promote a news article right now, and there are delays. We do not like the delays in the system. We really don’t. More manual reviews and more checks means more delays. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen on this. It’s going to happen on lots of areas. When we talk about increasing our investment in enforcement and maybe going from 10,000 people reviewing things to 20,000 people reviewing things — human beings don’t review the way machines review and they review over time and they can’t review everything at once. Part of the cost of the checks and balances we are putting into the system right now are those delays and I think people have to understand that. We’re going to do everything we can to minimize them but there are going to be more delays going forward, across the board on things as we check them, as we verify, as we try to make things more transparent.
Kurt Wagner, Recode: We’re obviously getting into the thick of the midterms. I’m curious if you can give us a sense of how you’re actually measuring your own success and progress in comparison to what happened in 2016? Are there specific metrics you’re looking for — and in the name of transparency, will those be shared publicly with all of us either during the midterms or after the midterms?
Sheryl Sandberg: We’re very focused on midterms, on taking the lessons of what we didn’t predict and see in 2016 and applying them. By far, the most important thing is going after fake accounts. If you look at the things that happened in the IRA ads on our platform in 2016, all of it was done though fake accounts. We did release that transparency report, giving out the number of how many — it was 1.3 billion fake accounts in six months. We’ve talked about finding fake accounts in France before the election, finding fake accounts in Alabama before the senate race. By far, the most important action we’re taking is going after fake accounts.
We’re also being very transparent on our efforts on false news, working with third-party fact-checkers. Going into the 2018 election, we are set up with third-party fact-checkers in 50 states. Articles that otherwise probably wouldn’t get enough distribution that they might even get noticed, we are working hard to find the articles that might have false information on the state and local level. That’s why we’re set up in 50 states, for people to be able to take a look and mark things as misinformation.
Moderator: We are going to take two more questions. One in Brazil and then we’ll end in New York.
Gustavo Brigatto, Valor Econômico: Thank you for having us. I have two questions. One is about abuse. You are trying to reduce abuse from companies and advertisers, but what about abuse from users? As you’re letting them know what companies are advertising and where, which kind of people they are targeting, we can imagine that hate speech will increase in some way? One follow question is about delays. Even with this fact that delays can happen, advertisers are still okay with the process you are implementing?
Sheryl Sandberg: One is about transparency for users, and the second is, are our advertisers okay with the transparency? Those are the two questions?
Gustavo Brigatto: Yes, and the delays that will come with transparency.
Sheryl Sandberg: No one likes the delays and they particularly don’t like them when it’s them. We are going to move through as quickly as possible but things are going to be slower. Anything we’re checking is going to be slower. It takes time to verify, it’s a pretty manual process. We have to get copies of real identity from people. They have to send them to us a certain way, it is a couple of days to do that and so there are going to be delays. No one likes them. We don’t like them either and we’re going to work as hard as we can to speed things up, but I think that’s an inevitable part of the process.
We do offer a lot of user transparency — so you can go to Pages and see what Pages are doing. We can see things on the site. I think a lot of our transparency initiatives are focused on users as well. Ads, because they are targeted in ways that content is not, was an area where it made more sense to work on going to the Page and being able to see the ads they’re running.
Emma Rodgers: I would add to that, from a people perspective, anyone can go to a Page and report that Page. If they come across a Page that they feel is violating our Community Standards, they can go in and use the Report a Page menu. We also give people the ability to give us feedback on any content that a Page has published. They can go in and there’s an ellipses in the upper right-hand corner of any post and a consumer can use that and share feedback on that content.
Issie Lapowsky, WIRED: California is voting on a big privacy bill today. I was wondering if you could touch on Facebook’s position on that. And then second, will there be a way to analyze a given advertisers overall spend in aggregate, and who they’re targeting as opposed to scraping each ad individually to look at those metrics.
Sheryl Sandberg: On the second question, if you go to a Page, you can see the ads they are running. If they are part of the political or issue archive, that’s where you also see spend.
Issie: But I wanted to know, will there be a way to look spend overall, and targeting overall as opposed to looking at individual ads.
Rob Leathern: On the latter, for the political ads, we will be releasing an API later this summer. That is the case where you will be able to aggregate more information and we’re going to work with various groups to give them access to that so that will be possible at that point.
Sheryl Sandberg: And on the California privacy bill – yes, we are supporting the bill.
Moderator: Thank you all very much, that concludes our time.
Sheryl Sandberg: Thank you all for coming in. We really appreciate the opportunity to talk face-to-face and take your questions.