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Facebook Political Ad Overhaul Aims for Greater Transparency

Ross Kelly


Facebook Advertising Patent

Facebook has announced major changes to its political ads following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Political parties in the UK will now be required to verify their identity and location in order to take out adverts on Facebook.

The policy changes implemented by Facebook have been designed to improve transparency in political advertising. The company has come under intense scrutiny for its previously lax regulations in this regard.

New features will also be included as part of the overhaul, including the ability to see who has paid for adverts and an archive of all ads purchased through the website.

Improving Transparency

From 16th October onwards, adverts that include political content around election cycles, as well as areas of intense national debate, will display a message detailing who has paid for the content.

The changes come following a report by the Electoral Commission, which recommended stricter guidelines and called for the ad disclaimers.

The rule changes come after the Electoral Commission published guidelines calling for imprints on digital adverts.

In a statement via social media, the Electoral Commission said it welcomed the changes, which represented “an important first step in providing voters with improved transparency.”

The statement added: “We’ll be monitoring how changes are implemented and their impact. We look forward to proposals from other digital advertising platforms in the UK.”

Courting Controversy

Facebook has been at the heart of a lengthy scandal since 2016. Fake News and misinformation during the 2016 US Elections were linked to Russian groups and was largely centred around this platform. Similarly, during the Brexit referendum, adverts were broadcast over the platform which also spread misinformation or unverified ‘facts’.

In 2017, the social media giant admitted that more than 120 million people across its platform had been exposed to political adverts and paid-for posts backed by the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency. These ads were aimed at stirring controversy among both camps in US politics and are believed to have cost around $100,000 (£76,000) to spread.

More recently, the firm was hit by a massive data breach in which the personal information of more than 12 million users was leaked.

Facebook has launched a similar tool in the US earlier in 2018 to combat the issue ahead of November’s mid-term elections. Since its introduction, more than one million US adverts have been stored in the archive feature, while sister-platform Instagram has also begun listing ads.

Additionally, Twitter has also introduced tools to combat misinformation in the US. The social media firm has reportedly held meetings with the Electoral Commission about political advertising issues.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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