Facebook to Check Groups Behind ‘Issue Ads’

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will soon require that advertisers wanting to run ads on hot-button political issues go through an authorization process first, a move the social network hopes will prevent the spread of misinformation across its platform.

The company announced in blog posts Friday it plans to work with third parties to develop a list of key issues, which will be updated over time.

In October, Facebook announced a similar requirement for election-related ads. The latest move will cover “issue ads”—those that don’t specifically mention a candidate but weigh in on a divisive issue, including during an election campaign.

Such advertisers will be required to confirm their identities and locations with the company.

The change marks the latest step in Facebook’s efforts to secure its platform after Russian-backed groups used the social network to sow divisions before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and elsewhere in the world.

A selection of Facebook ads released by U.S. lawmakers last year showed how Russian-linked operatives used the platform to buy ads to stoke tensions around issues from race to gun rights, as well as ads featuring the presidential candidates.

Starting this spring, election-related ads will carry a “Political Ad” label, alongside information on the advertisers who paid for them. In June, Facebook will make public a searchable archive of the ads carrying that label, including information on the amount the advertiser spent and the intended target audience.

Political ads on digital platforms are not subject to the same disclosure requirements as traditional media, such as television and radio stations, which must publicly disclose the campaign ads they broadcast.

In a blog post, Facebook Chief Executive

Mark Zuckerberg

said the company supports the Honest Ads Act, a proposed bill in Congress that would require large digital platforms to keep a public library of the paid political ads that appear on their sites.

“This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

Additionally, Facebook will also soon require people who run Pages with large numbers of followers to go through an authorization process, as it looks to make it harder for fake accounts to spread divisive content that has the potential to go viral.

The company has not disclosed the number of followers a page would have in order to trigger an authorization request. It also hasn’t provided details on what this verification process will entail.

Facebook said it will hire more staff to work on verifying ads and pages and that it is investing in artificial-intelligence to help uncover advertisers that have skirted the process.

Beyond the political ad spectrum, beginning this summer, Facebook will let users globally see all the ads a Page is running, following a test in Canada, the company said—another move first announced in October.

In recent weeks, Facebook has also been making a raft of changes to its data-sharing and privacy policies as it works to rebuild trust among users and regulators. Many of those changes were kickstarted following revelations that personal details of as many as 87 million users were improperly obtained by Cambridge Analytica, the data-analytics firm that worked for the 2016 Trump campaign.

In a call with reporters Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg said he had made a “huge mistake” in not focusing more on the potential abuse of users’ personal information. The Facebook chief also said he had been “too flippant” in 2016 when he dismissed the idea that fake news could influence an election as “crazy.”

Write to Lara O’Reilly at lara.o’reilly@wsj.com

Source link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-to-check-groups-behind-issue-ads-1523037600?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f


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