With shady “coalitions,” trade groups from petroleum and other industries hide their identities to push their favored policies on Facebook – because Facebook doesn’t verify the existence of the groups it says pay for ads on the site.
Energy industry trade groups ran Facebook ads pushing their political views… but obscured who was really behind them, instead making the ads say they had been paid for by front groups. For instance, some ads said “Paid for by Energy Citizens” rather than the more accurate “Paid for by the American Petroleum Institute.”
I exposed 12 such front groups, many in the energy industry – showing the real-world effects of Facebook not meaningfully enforcing its requirement that political ads disclose who paid for them.
This article was widely cited elsewhere in the media, by advocacy groups and by lawmakers. After the publication of this article or during the reporting process, several of the groups (Connect Americans Now/Microsoft, We Stand for Energy/Edison Electric Institute, Energy Citizens/American Petroleum Institute) updated their ads’ disclaimers to disclose the ads’ true funders.
The ads this article drew on were submitted to the Facebook Political Ad Collector project.