Facebook Tightens Rules on Political Ads Ahead of EU Vote

Chastened because Russia used the social networking platform to affect polls that swept US President Donald Trump to electricity, Facebook states it’s ploughed staff and resources into safeguarding the ballot across 27 EU countries on May 26.

“I don’t want anyone to be in any doubt that this is a top priority for your company,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for global policy alternatives, told reporters over a video-link into Brussels.

All such advertisements will be tagged as”paid for”, offering info on who bought it, for how much and how many individuals have seen it broken down by age, place and gender.

Only advertisers situated and authorised in a specific country will have the ability to run political ads or issue ads there, mirroring policies elsewhere where the resources have been rolled out. Ads will also be archived for seven years in a searchable archive.

Facebook will block ads that fail to honor from mid-April.

Despite requests by the umbrella political groups that make up the European Parliament and from the EU executive order to allow for one-stop-shop pan-European advertising, Facebook explained the risks were too high and the deadline too short to achieve that.

“The advantage… we know why they want that, but we could not find any way to split out that without opening up opportunities nobody would want to view,” Allan explained.

Doing so when polls in each of those 27 EU member nations are regulated by local election rules, he stated, would enable little recourse for authorities in the event of a breach of lawenforcement.

The ad transparency principles – already in place in the United States, Britain, Brazil, India, Ukraine and Israel – will be rolled out globally by late June, the business said.

Issue categories differ by country. In Europe, they will be: political worth, immigration, security and foreign policy, civil and social rights, environmental politics and the economy.

In the same upgrade, Facebook said it had been adding new features and data to its advertisement archive, the Ad Library, and expanding access to its own database so researchers could run more in-depth analysis of the data.

Other efforts by the company to protect a ballot by which 350 million adults can vote comprise working with independent fact-checkers to fight disinformation and a cyber-security team functioning to foil bad actors and bogus accounts.

As the polls approach, EU heads of state again sounded the alert at a summit last week, urging private operators like online platforms and social networks to”guarantee higher standards of responsibility and transparency.”

“Within the past year there has been enormous progress in awareness of the problem,” said a senior diplomat from an EU member state in the former Soviet bloc, whose administration was among those pushing Brussels to pay additional attention to the danger.

“Today it’s becoming a fundamental part of EU believing… to deal with fragilities our democratic systems might have.”

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