Friday, 23 February, 2018

Facebook to disclose details about political advertisers

Headshots of three senior executives from Facebook Google and Twitter are shown. Facebook’s Colin Stretch Google’s Rich Salgado and Twitter’s Sean Edgett are shown Colin Stretch, Rich Salgado, Sean Edgett
Theresa Hayes | 30 October, 2017, 14:38

Facebook will start identifying who is paying for political advertising, a final move from Facebook to boost disclosures amid growing political pressure.

Facebook is making the move just days before general counsel Colin Stretch is among the technology company executives set to appear in front of congressional committees looking into Russian ad spending on social media during last year's United States presidential election.

Whether or not you believe in that theory is a different story, but Facebook wants to settle the record once and for all that they do not, and never have, used your phone's microphone to spy on you just to serve up ads. Users will also be able to see ads that have been purchased by certain pages. Both Twitter's and Facebook's moves are aimed at curtailing proposed legislation in the U.S. that would force the disclosure of political ads on social networks. Testing in one market allows us to learn the various ways an entire population uses the feature at a scale that allows us to learn and iterate.

Initially, Facebook will only show active ads, but it plans to expand federal-election related ads to include an archived section also. Starting in Canada was a natural choice as this effort aligns with our election integrity work already underway there.

Some 470 accounts spent a total of approximately $100,000 (roughly Rs. 64 lakhs) between June 2015 to May 2017 on ads that touted fake or misleading news, according to Facebook.

"For political advertisers that do not proactively disclose themselves, we are building machine learning tools that will help us find them and require them to verify their identity", Goldman added. Facebook hasn't said whether the stricter rules for political advertisements will apply only to ads that directly discuss a candidate, or if they will apply more broadly to any ad that mentions a political issue.

"We remain deeply committed to helping protect the integrity of the electoral process on Facebook", the company said Friday.

Facebook in September announced a plan to increase "transparency" regarding political advertising and hire more than 1,000 people to thwart deceptive ads crafted to knock elections off course including "dark" messages crafted for specific demographic groups but invisible to others.