Facebook on Wednesday mentioned it was strengthening the way it verifies which teams and folks place political promoting on its website, because the social community braces for the 2020 presidential election within the United States and works to cut back the unfold of on-line disinformation.
The strikes construct on guidelines that Facebook launched final yr, through which it started requiring political advertisers to disclose the title of the organizations chargeable for advertisements on its platform and to show their identities. Facebook enacted that coverage after being criticized for permitting Russian operatives to control its advertisements within the 2016 American presidential election to divide voters.
Under the brand new guidelines, Facebook mentioned that advertisers might want to additional reveal that they’re registered with the United States authorities. That would require submitting proof similar to an employer identification quantity, a Federal Election Commission identification quantity, or a authorities web site area. Smaller companies might want to present a verifiable cellphone quantity and enterprise electronic mail tackle, the corporate mentioned.
Facebook mentioned its advertisers should submit the extra documentation by mid-October or it will pause noncompliant advert campaigns.
“We truly understand the importance of protecting elections and have been working for quite some time to bring greater transparency and authenticity to ads about social issues, elections, or politics,” mentioned Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public coverage director for world elections.
Over the previous few years, Facebook has struggled with questions on election interference and disinformation on its platform. The social community has labored to safe its website throughout elections, organising so-called warfare rooms to deal with false content material and dangerous advertisements throughout the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, as well as the national election in India this year and the European Union’s parliamentary elections. It also rolled out the transparency policy on political advertising.
Yet Facebook has applied its political advertising policy inconsistently. NBC News recently found that one political advertiser had sidestepped Facebook’s rules and was running ads under decoy company names. Last month, academics also called the social network’s ad archive — a tool Facebook introduced in late 2018 to allow the public to analyze political ads and ferret out disinformation campaigns — “broken,” describing it as riddled with bugs and technical issues.
Ms. Harbath said Facebook’s tools are not perfect and that it would “continue to learn from elections in the U.S. and around the world.” Facebook alone cannot tackle political disinformation in ads, she said, and advertisers, governments, regulators, journalists and researchers would need to participate in addressing the global disinformation problem.
Disinformation experts said the social network is still far from fixing the damage caused by the false news and ad campaigns that have run on the platform.
“This is all much too little, much too late,” said Dipayan Ghosh, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard and a former privacy and public policy adviser at Facebook. “We’ve seen incredible impacts coming from illegitimate political ads, including from seemingly legitimate actors. And companies, particularly Facebook, are not doing enough to protect the public and our democracy.”
He added that Facebook’s new verification policy amounted to “incremental baby steps forward.” That would “not particularly position us well in the lead-up to elections,” he said.
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said Facebook’s new ad transparency rules were “a welcome step,” though he added that the company could do more to ensure transparency in elections.
“Government, media and tech are all needed to take collective action to ensure transparency in elections, especially online,” Mr. Brookie said. “Our Congress needs to act to codify these types of ad transparency measures.”
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