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By Emily Glazer
Facebook Inc. is considering making changes to its political-advertising policy that could include preventing campaigns from targeting only very small groups of people, people familiar with the matter said, in an effort to spurn the spread of misinformation.
The company in recent weeks has weighed increasing the minimum number of people who are targeted in political ads from 100 to a few thousand, the people said.
Facebook has sought feedback on potential changes with large Republican and Democratic political ad buyers -- about that possible change and other ideas -- in efforts to limit how misinformation is spread, since ads with false or misleading information are often targeted toward specific audiences, one of the people said.
The discussions, which picked up around the time Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill about a month ago, preceded a flurry of announcements from other tech giants over their political-ad policies. Alphabet Inc.'s Google announced Wednesday it plans to stop allowing highly targeted political ads on its platform. In late October, Twitter Inc. announced it would no longer accept political ads and more recently detailed its new policy to impose targeting restrictions on cause-related advertising.
"As we've said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads," a Facebook spokesman said Wednesday night and reiterated Thursday.
Facebook earlier in October said it would no longer fact-check ads from political campaigns
Watchdogs including lawmakers and advocacy groups have called for greater oversight of political ads following revelations that Russian entities purchased digital ads designed to influence the 2016 vote, many of them spreading misinformation.
Though it is unclear if or when Facebook could roll out any changes, it has hinted that modifications to its political ad policy could be possible. It left the door open again in response to Google's announcement Wednesday.
Candidates from both parties have ramped up spending this year. Digital political ad spending is expected to reach $2.9 billion in 2020, up from $1.4 billion in 2016, according to Borrell Associates Inc., a consulting firm.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 21, 2019 11:50 ET (16:50 GMT)
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