Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Facebook announces changes, to make Ads, Pages more transparent

Facebook announces changes, to make Ads, Pages more transparent

Facebook announced a slew of changes on Friday to increase transparency on who is allowed to purchase political advertisements on its platform.

In addition, Facebook says it will require the administrators of pages with a "large number" of followers to verify their identities and addresses.

The company will require authorization for issue-based ads, such those centered on current political topics and debates.

(The Hill) Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that it would start verifying advertisers who seek to run political ads on its platform.

That legislation was introduced last October to counter concerns about foreign nationals using social media to influence American politics, an issue being looked at as part of an investigation into possible Russian meddling during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

Every advertiser who wants to run an issue ad will need to confirm their identity and location, Zuckerberg wrote.

Under what criteria Facebook would "authorize" ad buyers, the company did not say directly in the post.

The Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked troll farm that has used Facebook and other social media in an attempt to meddle in USA politics, created Pages meant to look like they were run by real American activists.

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence USA voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about inflammatory subjects, setting up events and buying ads. The company said Friday it is working with unnamed third parties to come up with a list of "key issues", and that it will update the list over time.

In Canada, Facebook has been testing a new feature called view ads that lets you see the ads a Page is running - even if they are not in your News Feed.

"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", Zuckerberg revealed in an official post on Facebook.

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. "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".

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

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

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