In order to prevent election interference on its platform, Facebook has introduced new changes to increase transparency and accountability for electoral ads and Pages. To get authorised by Facebook, advertisers will now need to confirm their identity and location.
"Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads -- electoral or issue-based -- until they are authorised," Rob Goldman, Vice President, Ads at Facebook, said in a blog post late Friday. Last year, the social media platform announced that only authorised advertisers will be able to run electoral ads on Facebook or Instagram. "In addition, these ads will be clearly labeled in the top left corner as aPolitical Ad'. Next to it, we will show 'paid for by' information," added Alex Himel, Vice President, Local and Pages. "We started testing the authorisation process this week, and people will begin seeing the label and additional information in the US later this spring," the blog post added.
Facebook is also investing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and adding more people to help find advertisers that should have gone through the authorisation process but did not. The company has also asked users to report if they see an unlabeled political ad. People can do this by tapping the three dots at the top right corner of the ad and selecting "Report Ad."
In Canada, Facebook is testing a new feature called "view ads" that lets you see the ads a Page is running even if they are not in your News Feed. "This applies to all advertiser Pages on Facebook -- not just Pages running political ads. We plan to launch view ads globally in June," the post added. In June, Facebook also plans to release a public, searchable political ads archive.
This will contain all ads with the "Political Ad" label, and will show the image and text, as well as additional information like the amount spent and demographic audience information for each ad. "We're also announcing that people who manage Pages with large numbers of followers will need to be verified," said Goldman. Those who manage large Pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post.
The new updates, Facebook said, are designed to prevent future abuse in elections. Earlier this week, Facebook showed country-specific break-up of people affected by the data breach, saying information of up to 87 million people, mostly in the US, may have been "improperly" shared with British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica via a quiz app, "thisisyourdigitallife", between November 2013 and December 2015. The British political research organisation, which collaborated with Donald Trump's campaign in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election, used the leaked information to develop a computer programme to predict the decisions of US voters and allegedly influence them.