Facebook is taking an API-first approach to fighting abusive political ads. This week, Facebook introduced the Ad Archive API. Through the API, researchers and journalists can analyze ads that contain political or content of national importance.
In its blog post announcement, Facebook explained that the API would be tested first by select publishers, academics, and researchers. During this test period, Facebook hopes to learn what features of the API are useful and how to make the API most effective before opening it up to a broader developer audience. While the initial group is not open for application, Facebook expects to open the API up to a larger audience next month.
While no public documentation is currently available, Facebook indicated that the API can return ad creative data, ad start and end date, performance data, total ad spend, and impressions. Further, the API will provide demographic data for the audience reached including details such as age, gender, and location. For those who want access when available, fill out the interest form.
Facebook started an affirmative strategy against abusive political ads in May of this year when it announced new requirements for political ads. The requirement forced political ad purchasers to include a "paid for" label at the top of political ads. Facebook began archiving such ads in May, and the archive is available here. The Ad Archive API takes Facebook's strategy to the next level with programmatic access to related data, at a more granular level. Stay tuned for the live product.