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Facebook announced the news in a blog post Monday, following years of requests from academics. Until now, Facebook has only publicly shared data on who sees a given ad, but it has withheld information on who, exactly, the advertiser targeted in the first place.
Facebook is releasing the data through its Facebook Open Research and Transparency program, a project it launched last year in hopes of giving researchers more secure access to Facebook data. "We welcome continued analysis from researchers on the impact of Facebook's products on the election, which helps make our democracy more transparent," Chaya Nayak, head of the FORT team, told Protocol in a statement.
The data set in this case will be limited to ads that ran between Aug. 3 and Nov. 3 of 2020.
Facebook's history of denying researchers targeting data has led to dust-ups between Facebook and academics who have built their own tools to monitor targeting information on political ads. Most recently, Facebook sent researchers at New York University a cease-and-desist demand over their ad monitoring tool.