(New York, NY)—The New York Times this week reported that Facebook’s digital repository of advertisements, meant to bring a new level of transparency to online ad buys, has been riddled with errors and technical glitches that make it virtually unusable.

In response, PEN America released the following statement from Summer Lopez, senior director of Free Expression Programs:

“It’s disheartening to hear that Facebook’s Ad Library has been hobbled by technical limitations and errors. While we commended Facebook in March for establishing the database, we noted back then that the company needed to take additional steps to ensure the Ad Library was both comprehensive and effective. Unfortunately, it seems the Library has instead failed to serve even its basic purpose as a research tool. Facebook has become one of the most important social forums of the 21st century. This means that people deserve to know what ads are appearing on the platform, whom these ads are targeting, and where they appear.”

For more of PEN America’s analysis on advertising databases and the role they can play in combating misinformation and fraudulent news, see our March 2019 report Truth on the Ballot: Fraudulent News, the Midterm Elections, and Prospects for 2020.


Media Contact: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892