Expanding on its promise to have political advertisers identified – and political ads labeled – Facebook will now be requiring anyone buying “issues-based” ads deemed broadly political to be verified as well.
Facebook‘s role in the outcome of the US presidential elections and its handling of political ads, has landed the company in deep water recently. That’s why announced in October that advertisers running political ads on Facebook would be required to prove their identity – i.e confirm who they are and who they are supporting, and that they have a real address; in this case an address in the United States. In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has realised however that this won’t be enough.
It is now expanding the category to include any ads that are related to ‘issues’ – topics that are debated across the US.
Here's how the Political Ad label and political ad archive will work for you. pic.twitter.com/m16Zg4yOta
— Facebook (@facebook) April 6, 2018
Ads identified as such, will have the ‘Political Ad’ label appear on them, along with information on the person or entity that paid for the ad. This feature is currently rolling out in time for the 2018 US midterms, but will be expanded internationally as well. Also, this measure, along with that to require individuals running large Facebook Pages to be verified, will hopefully help minimise fake accounts and/or shady political advertisers whose purpose is to polarise societies and interfere with elections.
Mark Zuckerberg has recently admitted that “these steps by themselves won’t stop all people trying to game the system,” but the hope is that they are at least a step in the right direction. They will certainly “make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads.” Facebook hasn’t specified all the ‘issues’ that will need verification, but it has said it is working on a list with third parties. This list will also be refined “over time.”