Facebook will now require political ads and pages with many followers to be authorized

Business Insider US

  • Facebook is changing how it manages pages and ads on both its social network and Instagram.
  • The company will require political and issue-based ads and pages with "large numbers of followers" to be authorized; advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location.
  • Facebook says the changes are aimed at increasing transparency and accountability and preventing election interference.

Facebook is tightening the noose on advertisers and changing how it manages pages and ads on its social network and Instagram.

The company said on Friday that it would require both political ads and pages with "large numbers of followers" to be authorized.

The new requirements are aimed at increasing transparency and accountability, giving users more information to evaluate trustworthiness, and preventing election interference, Rob Goldman, Facebook's vice president of ads, and Alex Himel, its vice president of local and pages, said in a blog post on the company's site.

"We know we were slow to pick up foreign interference in the 2016 US elections," Goldman and Himel wrote. "By increasing transparency around ads and pages on Facebook, we can increase accountability for advertisers — improving our service for everyone."

Advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location to get authorization to run issue-based ads, such as those centred on current political topics or debates. Facebook will ban those that don't clear the process from running such ads on either its social network or Instagram. Each message from an approved advertiser will be labelled as a "political ad" and show who paid for it.

Anyone who manages a Facebook page with a substantial number of followers will also need to be verified, and page owners who do not clear the process won't be able to publish posts on them.

The requirement is designed to clamp down on users with fake accounts running Facebook pages. Going forward, Facebook says, visitors will also be able to see more information about the page, such as name changes.

The move to authorize issue-based ads comes on top of the changes Facebook rolled out in October, when it said advertisers running federal-election-related ads in the US would be required to verify their identities and include disclosures.

Facebook also said it was working with third parties to develop a list of key issues that it would refine over time.

The latest in a series of changes by Facebook to get control of ads and pages

Facebook's other steps to prevent abuse of its services include a feature called "view ads" that lets users see all the ads a Facebook page is running, even those that may not be targeted to them. The company is testing it in Canada and plans to launch it globally this summer.

The company also is planning to release in June a searchable archive of all past political ads that would show not just their images and text, but the amount spent on them and the demographic information used to target them to Facebook users.

With elections in the US, India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary, and other countries this year, preventing election interference is a huge focus for Facebook right now, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently.

It's one of his top priorities for 2018, Facebook will hire more people to assist with the effort, Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook account on Friday.

Zuckerberg also voiced his support for the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would apply disclosure requirements for ads on TV or in print to political ads on online services.

He said he hoped the moves would help raise the bar for all political advertising online.

"These steps by themselves won't stop all people trying to game the system," Zuckerberg wrote. "But they will 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.

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