London: As Facebook is increasingly being used by political parties to reach out to the voters, a study has found that such advertising on the social networking site is creating new types of inequalities for campaigners. Researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK found that regulators must find a way of monitoring and addressing the way political advertising on Facebook creates such inequalities.

The online platform is increasingly used during elections, but it is impossible to track the impact of political advertising and how politicians are using this tool. The study suggests regulation must also take into account how Facebook algorithms mean the same advertising spend has different results.

Researchers say any new regulations must show more understanding of the differences in online campaigning, and do more to capture the true spend on political adverts on Facebook. Traditional campaigning regulations are based on the theory that spending by each political party leads to a similar result — for example if political parties spent the same amount on leaflets the literature would reach a similar number of people. The researchers, including those from the University of Sheffield in the UK, found this cannot apply to Facebook advertising, where the impact is dependent on the audience the advertiser wants to reach. This means different spend will have different results.

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