Survey: Most social media users in three key states have seen ads questioning the election

Don’t aim at us: Sixty-eight percent of people opted out of running political ads based on race, income, political inclinations, and other demographic information. Ads should be seen by everyone. Around two-thirds of those surveyed said that social media companies should also make it clearer how ads are targeted and funded.

Behind the study: British research firm YouGov conducted the survey on behalf of Global Witness, a 27-year-old international advocacy group that deals with issues ranging from climate change to corruption and digital rights. The error rate of the survey was 2.92 percentage points.

In recent years, Global Witness has urged lawmakers in both the US and Europe to scrutinize larger technology companies. In particular, the group has urged Congress to pass laws banning micro-targeting of online political ads and requiring more precise disclosure of who is funding them.

Silicon Valley action: Facebook, Google and Twitter revised their political advertising guidelines after it became known that Kremlin-affiliated online trolls bought ads to attack Hillary Clinton and stir up trouble in the 2016 US presidential election. All three companies have since created publicly accessible databases listing advertisements and information about them.

Companies have also taken steps to restrict political ads before the election.

Twitter has taken the boldest steps of any of the three companies, and last year decided to get rid of political ads entirely. Meanwhile, Google limited political advertisers to targeting messages based on age, location, and gender. Facebook hasn’t imposed any similar restrictions, although as of this week it has banned the publication of new political ads indefinitely.

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