Facebook to verify identities for political ads

Katie Ramirez
April 7, 2018

Each message from an approved advertiser will be labeled as a "political ad" and show who paid for it. Initially its starting in the USA and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months.

Political and issue ads proved especially powerful in the 2016 presidential election, and there are fears of a repeat of such influence over this fall's midterm elections. In February, Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged a Russian troll farm - which spread disinformation and fake ads around the time of the 2016 election and beyond - with election interference. This week, Facebook raised that number to 87 million.

The social network's announcement Friday could allay concerns of election experts and lawmakers that ads about hot-button social issues meant to be divisive and foment voter outrage might still slip through, leaving a risky weak spot on the network.

It also ran ads, nearly all of which would likely not have qualified as political ads; at least some would likely be considered issue ads, depending on how exactly Facebook defines issue advertising.

The step is meant to prevent the kind of foreign interference in elections that the USA saw from Russian Federation in 2016 and continues to experience. "This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online".

"We are working with third parties to develop a list of key issues, which we will refine over time", Rob Goldman, vice president of Ads, and Alex Himel, vice president of Local & Pages, wrote in the Friday blog post.

"To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location", Zuckerberg wrote.

The company will now require both political ads and pages with "large numbers of followers" to be authorized.

These steps would seem to satisfy requirements lawmakers had sought from the social network in the bipartisan Honest Ads Act.

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Zuckerberg said on Friday that he also wanted to shed more light on "issue ads", or ads that discuss a political subject but do not directly relate to an election or a candidacy. Mark Warner, D-Va., who along with Sens.

Facebook's other steps to prevent abuse of its services include a feature called View Ads that lets users see all the ads a Facebook page is running, even those that may not be targeted to them. "This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies".

Ads will be clearly labeled with "paid for by" information, later this spring, the company says.

The ads will be put into a searchable database, which will be released in June.

Facebook previously announced the same rules for ads coming from political campaigns, but is now extending it to ads that are about a range of issues.

Facebook has announced a few more policy changes to limit the impact bad actors can have on upcoming elections in the United States and around the world. He will face questions about Facebook's dissemination of personal user data.

"When we received word that this researcher gave the data to Cambridge Analytica, they assured us it was deleted", she said.

The company also said that people who manage Pages with "large numbers of followers" must now be "verified". In February, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Russian entities for meddling in the US election with social media schemes that enabled, for instance, users in Russia to engineer fake rallies and protests across the country.

Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have increased their visibility.

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