Facebook unveils clampdown on political ads ahead of Congress appearance


Each electoral and issue ad will be labeled as "political" and will include information on who paid for it, which would be required by the Honest Ads Act, transparency legislation that has been introduced in Congress, a bill Facebook appears to be pre-empting with its new policies. To run an ad on any of these issues, on either Facebook or Instagram, an advertiser will need to confirm their identity and location with Facebook.

"Advertisers that don't clear the process will be banned from running political ads on our platforms until they properly authorized", a spokesman told ABC.

Facebook is stepping up its efforts to fight fake news and political misinformation, with new controls meant to ensure authenticity and transparency among advertisers and publishers on the site.

Zuckerberg, saying his company "won't catch every ad that should be labeled", but Facebook will now encourage its users to report suspicious content.

"Today's updates are created to prevent future abuse in elections", the Facebook executives Rob Goldman and Alex Himel said in a blogpost, "and to help ensure you have the information that you need to assess political and issue ads, as well as content on pages".

Facebook will additionally require that those who manage "large pages" will have to be verified, too, making it more hard for people using fake accounts to run pages and "to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content", according to Zuckerberg's post.

"We know we were slow to pick up foreign interference in the 2016 United States elections", Goldman and Himel wrote.

The change will help tackle concerns such as those raised around the Irish abortion referendum, in which there has been widespread Facebook advertising from groups with little transparency around their funding, motive or even location.

Facebook also said that a feature it has been testing in Canada, which allows users to see all the ads run by a given page in a separate tab-an experiment that critics have called insufficient and misleading-will be rolled out widely in June.

"Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads - electoral or issue-based - until they are authorized". "Those who manage large Pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post".

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

"With important elections coming up in the US, Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan and more countries in the next year, one of my top priorities for 2018 is making sure we support positive discourse and prevent interference in these elections", wrote Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg assures that in order to require verification for all of these pages and advertisers, Facebook will hire thousands of more people. This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way. "This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online", the post concluded.

"These steps by themselves won't stop all people trying to game the system", Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page.