Wednesday 11 December 2019 11:08 am

Political adverts disappear from Facebook's online library

Facebook came under fire yestderday as tens of thousands of political adverts disappeared from the social media firm’s online archive, two days before the UK goes to the polls.

Adverts from the Conservatives, Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats can now no longer be found in the so-called “ad library.”

Read more: The best and worst political adverts of the General Election campaign

The archive was introduced in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal as is designed so that the public can scrutinise the use of social media in elections.

Facebook has now fixed the problem. A company spokesman said: “We have fixed the bug and all of the impacted ads in the UK are now back in the Ads Library.” 

There were 180,000 adverts that had been classified as political in the library, which also includes content from Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram, on 5 December. That number dropped to 120,000 yesterday.

Facebook declined to answer what caused the issue or when it would be resolved.

“We’re aware that people are having trouble accessing the ads in the ads library, and we’re working to fix the issue as soon as possible,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Some of the adverts do continue to show up if they are searched for with their specific identification number. However, they do not show up when viewed at the catalogue level.

Read more: EU commission opens investigation into data usage by Google and Facebook

Transparency firm Who Targets Me tweeted: “Facebook says it is urgently investigating how its ad library broke two days before the election.

“The big platforms aren’t living up to their word on ad transparency.”

The disappearance of the adverts meant the public cannot gauge how much each party is spending in the last days before the election.