Facebook recently announced a big set of changes to advertisements and pages on the platform for greater transparency and accountability. With the new changes, the company aims to curb election interference caused by the platform.
Facebook is looking to self-police by implementing parts of the proposed Honest Ads Act before the government tries to regulate it. To fight fake news and election interference, Facebook will require the admins of popular Facebook Pages and advertisers buying political or “issue” ads on “debated topics of national legislative importance” like education or abortion to verify their identity and location. Those that refuse, are found to be fraudulent or are trying to influence foreign elections will have their Pages prevented from posting to the News Feed or their ads blocked.
Explaining the company’s motive behind the new changes, Goldman and Himel wrote:
“We know we were slow to pick-up foreign interference in the 2016 US elections. Today’s updates are designed to prevent future abuse in elections – and to help ensure you have the information that you need to assess political and issue ads, as well as content on Pages. By increasing transparency around ads and Pages on Facebook, we can increase accountability for advertisers – improving our service for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Facebook plans to use this information to append a “Political Ad” label and “Paid for by” information to all election, politics and issue ads. Users can report any ads they think are missing the label, and Facebook will show if a Page has changed its name to thwart deception. Facebook started the verification process this week; users in the U.S. will start seeing the labels and buyer info later this spring, and Facebook will expand the effort to ads around the world in the coming months.
For pages, Facebook will now start verifying the people behind large pages on the platform. In order to get verified, both advertisers and page administrators will have to provide a government-issued ID and a physical mailing address. Once provided, Facebook will send them a letter with a special code to confirm the address. Advertisers will also have to reveal which candidate, organization or business they’re representing.
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