Facebook Gets Update for Ads on Social Issues, Elections, and Politics in U.S.

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The U.S. elections will be held next year and Facebook is already getting ready for it. Today, Facebook has announced through a blog post that it will prepare for an update for the social platform. The update will be targeting the Ads which deal with social and political issues for the U.S. 2020 elections.

As elections are approaching, Facebook has taken up a unique measure to update their users about the advertisers and their activities for a better public opinion.

People should know who is trying to influence their vote and advertisers shouldn’t be able to cover up who is paying for ads…Today, we’re sharing additional steps we’re taking to protect elections and prepare for the US 2020 election. Those steps include strengthening the authorization process for US advertisers, showing people more information about each advertiser and updating our list of social issues in the US to better reflect the public discourse on and off Facebook. – Facebook newsroom report

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The upcoming update for Facebook is quite noteworthy because it will make people aware of what they are dealing with. Ads are the most effective way to attract public attention. If people are not aware of who is behind those Ads and what they intend to do, their votes will be affected too.

Therefore, Facebook has come up with some updates, especially relevant to the Ads circle.

New disclaimer requirements

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Facebook has already made it mandatory for the advertisers to ‘get authorized’ about social issues, politics, and elections since 2018. They even introduced AD Library for it.

The process already demands identity and address proof from the advertisers in the U.S. Advertisers also have to place a “Paid for by” disclaimer on their ads to show who they are working for. However, advertisers sometimes attempt to put misleading “Paid for by” disclaimers on their ads.

Therefore, starting mid-September, advertisers will need to provide more information about their organization before Facebook reviews and approves them. If this information is not provided by mid-October, Facebook will take down the Ads. Upon this, Facebook has reportedly made a statement in their blog,

“Advertisers will have five options for providing more information, three of which demonstrate they are registered with the U.S. government. Suppose they choose one of the three government resource options. In that case, they will be allowed to use their registered organization name in disclaimers and the “i” icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner of their ads will read “Confirmed Organization.”

The advertisers will have to provide valid U.S. street address, phone number, business email and a business website matching the email to Facebook. They also have to provide one of the following information: 

  1. Tax-registered organization identification number ( EIN).
  2. A government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil.
  3. Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number.

Advertisers who are unable to provide that information can also choose one of the following two options:

  1. Submit an organization name by providing a verifiable phone number, business email, mail-deliverable address and a business website with a domain that matches the email.
  2. Provide no organizational information and rely solely on the page admin’s legal name on their personal identification document. For this option, the advertiser will not be able to use a registered organization name in disclaimers. 

For advertisers that choose one of these two options, the “i” icon will read “About this ad” instead of “Confirmed Organization.” 

People can hereby understand who is trying to influence them and why. They will be able to see the information such as whether an advertiser used an EIN or FEC identification number.

Updating social issues in the U.S.

Facebook also includes a list of social issues in the US a range of topics encompassed by the 10 referenced categories. For the Civil and Social Rights category, Facebook will detect and review ads on various topics, e. g. freedom of religion, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, etc. 

Ads deal with debate or advocate for environmental issues, won’t require fulfilling these additional steps. The blogpost also reported that, if an ad goes further, however, and advocates for or against things like legislation or a ballot initiative, the authorization requirement will continue to apply.

Future goals

Facebook has also added up their future plans to make its platform more transparent for its users.

Their plans include:

  1. More enhancements to our Ad Library, such as making it easier to track and compare spending of U.S. presidential candidates   
  2. Expanding our policy to prohibit ads that expressly discourage people in the US from voting, a commitment we made as part of a recent civil rights audit.
  3. Requiring all Pages for national candidates or elected officials to go through Page Publishing Authorization requires that Page administrators turn on two-factor authentication and verify their primary country location so that we can confirm these Pages are using real accounts and are located in the U.S.
  4. Exposing more information about a Page, such as the business or organization behind it.

As time is changing, our society is adapting it rapidly. Facebook is continuously trying to focus on the safety and requirements for each and everyone across the globe. We sincerely hope that their call for sensible regulation will protect people ahead and fulfill their goals.

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