Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Facebook announces changes, to make Ads, Pages more transparent

Open source Open source
Orlando Vargas | 07 April, 2018, 03:00

Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday endorsed US legislation to regulate political ads across the internet, a concession to lawmakers days before he is scheduled to testify in two USA congressional hearings.

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. "To get authorized by Facebook, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location", they said.

Facebook will also require verification of people who manage Facebook pages with large followings, Zuckerberg wrote.

Facebook made a decision to require that advertisers be authorized to run issue ads as well as election ads, said Rob Goldman, vice president of ads, and Alex Himel, vice president of local and pages, in a separate post on the Facebook blog. They have faced an uphill fight so far because Republicans, who are generally skeptical of political ad regulations, have majorities in the House and Senate.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that the social media portal will require all political ads on its platform to clearly mention who is paying for the message and for their identity to be verified, "in a bid to curb outside election interference". The company is testing it in Canada and plans to launch it globally this summer.

The new policy comes just a few months after Facebook announced related moves after it discovered sketchy ad buys that likely came from the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll factory.

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The legislation would also require online platforms to make "all reasonable efforts" to ensure that foreign nationals and entities are not buying political ads to influence the US electorate.

"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", wrote Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg have increased their visibility.

"These steps by themselves won't stop all people trying to game the system".

Under the Honest Ads Act, digital platforms with at least 50 million monthly views would need to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by anyone spending more than $500.

Also this week, Facebook said it had removed 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook pages that had been controlled by the Internet Research Agency. "This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online", the post concluded. "That's why today's announcement by Facebook is so important, and I would encourage all of the platform companies to follow suit as we work toward making the Honest Ads Act the law of the land, ensuring that political ads sold online abide by the same disclosure rules as TV and radio ads". But it wasn't until the Cambridge Analytica story - reported by the New York Times, the Guardian, the UK Observer and Britain's Channel 4 - coupled with pressure from lawmakers and a drop in Facebook's stock price that the policy changes were announced. He will face questions about Facebook's dissemination of personal user data.

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