Facebook’s new push to be more transparent have already hit a snag. The company recently introduced a new tool that lets users easily see any ads a particular Facebook Page is running, but advertisers have already found a way around it.
The social media giant is in the midst of dealing with a number of crises over privacy, security, and bad faith use of the tools on its platform. To deal with one of the bigger looming problems — bad actors potentially using the social network's ad network to covertly influence elections just as the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency did in 2016 — Facebook came up with a solution that emphasized transparency.
Facebook rolled out the Info and Ads section on Facebook Pages in June. With the new tool in place, anyone can now go to any Facebook Page and click on Info and Ads tab in the Page's menu to get a full view of all that Page’s active Facebook ads as well as all the posts the Page is spending money to promote. Before this feature was launched, this information wasn't centralized, with many ads only visible if you happened to be one of the users that the ad was targeting.
Some Facebook Page administrators have argued against the changes in private Facebook groups. They say that competitors can use the info that Facebook's transparency policy provides — from its sales pitch to the products they promote — to reverse-engineer their marketing strategy. For example, clicking on the Info and Ads tab on a politician’s Page could unveil the types off people they're targeting and how they’re trying to reach them.
Unfortunately for the Page administrators, there are no exceptions to the rule — Facebook wants to make all ads, and the identity of who's paying for them, available to the public, and there’s no way to remove the Info and Ads tab.
Until now, that is.
In private Facebook groups this past weekend, a few Page owners have started sharing a workaround that hides the Info and Ads tab.
Hiding the tab on a Facebook Page is simple. On the Page's Settings page, click Edit Page on the left-hand side menu.
That calls up a few options, including the Templates section. Every Facebook template available has the Info and Ads tab as an non-removable default — every Facebook template, except one.
Clicking the Edit button next to the current template and scrolling down to the very bottom of the pop-up window shows a template called “Video Page.” This template is fairly new, launched a little over a week before the Info and Ads tab was rolled out. But, for some reason, the Info and Ads tab is not included in the default Video Page template.
Basically, any Facebook Page owner, regardless of what type of Page they run, can switch their Page’s template to a Video Page, which hides the Info and Ads tab. Users coming to a Facebook Page built with the Video Page template will not be able to find the easy, click-of-a-button navigation that reveals all the ads the Page is running.
However, access to Video Pages' Facebook ads are still publicly available, but they aren't as intuitive to access. Still, all you need to do is add "/ads" at the end of the Page's main URL, like so: https://www.facebook.com/[Page Username]/ads
Without the tab in the menu, however, not many Facebook users would know how to do this, which probably doesn't line up with the "transparency" the company is looking for.
To be fair, the failure to assign the Info and Ads tab as a default to the Video Page template seems like something that Facebook simply overlooked. In response to a query from Mashable, a Facebook rep said the company was looking into the matter. We'll update this story if they send a more substantive response.