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Facebook increases Political Ads transparency in the UK, makes “Paid for by” label mandatory

Oct 16, 2018, 7:00 am

Facebook is introducing authorization requirements for those wishing to post political advertisements to the site. It says to introduce tools to increase transparency around political advertising on the platform in the UK.

The social media network announced a new authorization scheme to approve organizations before they can run political ads on the site. It will also include new features on its website to show who has paid for ads and begin an archive of all political ads that are purchased on the site in an effort to clamp down on election fraud.

The new system has already been in operation in the US and Brazil. Facebook Political ads were also used during the Brexit referendum and linked to claims of overspending by the Vote Leave campaign.

Facebook was also forced to act on the controversy about ads it displayed during the 2016 US Presidential election campaign and the UK’s EU referendum. It is also extending its Ad Library to include the UK, which will show all advertisements currently being run by a page or organization on Facebook and Instagram, as well as ads from up to seven years ago.

Ads RelatedThe company said the new tools were part of a commitment it made during appearances before the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) earlier this year to offer more transparency around political advertising.

The first time anyone wants to place an ad that talks about any live political issue in the UK or promote any candidate, they will go through a verification process to prove their identity and that they are based in the UK. They will have to provide a passport, a driving license or a residence permit, and these will be checked by a third-party organization.

The system allows users to report a political ad as fake news, and if Facebook determines that it does contain falsehoods, it can be taken down. Facebook Political Ads that have broken the rules remain in the archive so that you can check just how many people it reached while it was on the site.

The government is currently considering new laws to force political ads to state who paid for them online. Claire Bassett, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, said that extending the election and referendum “imprint rules to digital campaign material which are an urgent change that voters need.”

Facebook itself has acknowledged that its latest update will not prevent abuse entirely but in future spending on ads will be more visible.

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