In the 2016 presidential election Facebook and other social media platforms were utilized by political campaigns and interest groups to run advertisements with very few rules regulating their disclosure and little public information about their source.
The lack of knowledge about these advertisements underscored the ease with which political actors, both foreign and domestic, were able to manipulate platforms like Facebook to disseminate misleading and often false information to Facebook users in the United States and around the world.
The spread of misinformation meant to foment political discord and stir unrest continues to be a concern less than three months out from a consequential midterm election. Just this week Facebook announced it removed "652 pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US."
Facebook also said it "removed multiple pages, groups and accounts" linked to "inauthentic behavior" on its platforms, including actions that originated in Russia.
Aside from the threat from nefarious actors, Facebook's influence as a medium through which American politicians and campaigns communicate with voters has skyrocketed in the last decade. But exactly how that influence and power is being yielded by politicians, campaigns and outside groups from all sides of the political spectrum still remains somewhat of a mystery due to the lack of rules governing the disclosure of that information.