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Facebook launches tools to promote UK political ad transparency

Facebook launches tools to promote UK political ad transparency

The social media giant is introducing authorisation requirements for those wishing to post political advertisements to the site

Facebook announced a new authorisation scheme to approve organisations before they can run political advertisements on the site.

It is also extending its Ad library to include the UK, which will display all adverts that are currently being run by a page or organisation on Facebook and Instagram for up to seven years.

The company stated that the new tools are part of a commitment it made during appearances before the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) earlier in 2018 to offer more transparency around its political advertising.

It also comes right after the platform was scrutinized for its policies towards advertising –particularly the last US presidential election and the EU referendum.

It comes after the platform was scrutinised for its policies towards advertising as questions had been.

Regarding the new measures, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy Richard Allen, alongside director of product management Rob Leathern, stated: “From today, all advertisers wanting to run ads in the UK that reference political figures, political parties, elections, legislation before Parliament and past referenda that are the subject of national debate, will need to verify their identity and location and carry a ‘Paid for by’ disclaimer.

“We see this as an important part of ensuring electoral integrity and helping people understand who they are engaging with. We recognise that this is going to be a significant change for people who use our service to publish this type of ad.” He continued.

“While the vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organisations, we know that there are bad actors that try to misuse our platform. By having people verify who they are, we believe it will help prevent abuse.” He concluded.

Responding to that, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright stated: “The Government is taking action to tackle disinformation in the UK to ensure people can tell the difference between fact and fabrication.

“Online platforms should be taking the most effective steps they can to ensure transparency and I look forward to seeing the impact of these political advertising measures by Facebook.” He added.

The authorization system will ask for identity verification from those who are wishing to post political adverts—via a driving license, passport or location verification through code.

The social media site said this data would be deleted once confirmation had taken place, with the data kept for a maximum of 30 days.

The Ad Library will also enable anyone – whether or not they use Facebook – to search for and access the political advertising history or any Facebook or Instagram page or by search term.

“This will include a range of the ad’s budget and number of people reached, and the other ads that page is running,” Mr Allen and Mr Leathern said.

The systems have already been introduced in the US and Brazil ahead of elections in both countries.

Facebook said it wanted to have the system up and running before any future election in the UK as well.

 

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