Facebook will let researchers study its election ad targeting data

The data will be available through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) tool, which the company created “to enable academic researchers to study the impact of Facebook’s products on elections [with] measures to protect people’s privacy and keep the platform secure.” Researchers need to apply for FORT access to get their hands on the data.

Facebook is also moving 2020 Election Spend Tracker data from its Ad Library to the elections page on February 1st. Anyone can download that information to find out how much presidential, Senate and House candidates spent on Facebook ads. Data on aggregate advertising spending for all pages will still be available through the Ad Library.

In October, Facebook demanded that New York University shut down a political ad research project. Thousands of volunteers signed up for an NTU Ad Observatory project to use a browser extension that vacuumed up data about political ads Facebook displayed to them.

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