Facebook is introducing new changes to the app to make Ads and Pages more transparent in order to ensure transparency and accountability, as well as prevent election interference. The social media had mandated that only authorized advertisers would be able to run electoral Ads on Facebook and Instagram, and they have now extended the criteria to include “issue-based” Ads such as political topics being debated across the country.
So far as the “issue-based” Ads are concerned, Facebook is working with numerous third-parties to create a tentative list of key issues which they intend to modify over time. Advertisers posting Ads related to such issues needs to get authorized to do the same by revealing their identity and location, failing which they shall not be allowed to post-electoral or issue-based Ads. And since it is quite possible for Facebook to overlook certain unauthorized Ads, in spite of investing in artificial intelligence and adding more people to screen out the ads, they are encouraging users to report them. This can be done by tapping three dots at the top right corner of the ad and selecting “Report Ad’.
Furthermore, these Facebook Ads will be clearly labeled in the top left corner as “Political Ad’’, next to which “paid for by” information shall be shown. Facebook has started testing the authorization process this week, and people will begin seeing the label and additional information in the US later this spring.
In Canada, Facebook has been testing a feature called ‘view Ads’ that allows users to view all Ads being posted by a page even if they do not appear in the news feed, and this feature extends to all kinds of Ads. Facebook shall make this feature globally available this June; when they also plan to release a public, searchable, Facebook political Ads archive containing all Ads with the “Political Ad” label, with the image and text, as well as additional information like the amount spent and demographic audience information for each ad.
Rob Goldman, VP, Ads and Alex Himel, VP, Local & Pages, have stated the following as reasons behind the latest announcements:
We know we were slow to pick-up foreign interference in the 2016 US elections. Today’s updates are designed to prevent future abuse in elections – and to help ensure you have the information that you need to assess political and issue ads, as well as content on Pages. By increasing transparency around ads and Pages on Facebook, we can increase accountability for advertisers – improving our service for everyone. – Rob Goldman and Alex Himel
Additionally, Facebook has also announced that from now on Pages with a large number of followers will need to be verified in order to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account. Users will also be shown additional context about Pages to effectively assess their content.