Facebook Tweaks Its Algorithm To Prevent Repeat Of 2016 Election

The social media giant says it has made the platform more transparent.  

Facebook tweaks its algorithm
Richard Drew / AP Images

The social media giant says it has made the platform more transparent.  

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Facebook. Amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company’s stocks plummeted after it was reported that a massive privacy breach occurred. More than 50 million user data was compromised and the stolen information was reportedly used to manipulate the 2016 U.S election.

Facebook now has seen the error of its ways and has introduced a series of changes to its ads algorithm as well as user privacy. According to Forbes, on Monday, Facebook users will see a notification at the top of their News Feed about protecting their information.

Last October, Facebook announced that only authorized advertisers will be able to run electoral ads on Facebook or Instagram.This week, the social media giant extended that requirement to anyone that wants to show “issue ads” — like political topics that are being debated across the country. “We are working with third parties to develop a list of key issues, which we will refine over time,” said Facebook in its blog post.

To get authorized by Facebook, advertisers must confirm their identity and location. Until they are authorized, they will be prohibited from running political ads, be they electoral or issue-based. Facebook started testing the authorization process this month.

These ads will be clearly labeled as “Political Ad.” It will show also show the “paid for by” information.

Besides recruiting more people to monitor ads, the company is also investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence to speed up the authorization process. “We realize we won’t catch every ad that should be labeled, and we encourage anyone who sees an unlabeled political ad to report it,” Facebook said. Users can report an ad by tapping the three dots at the top right corner of the ad and selecting “Report Ad.”

Regarding Facebook Pages that have more followers, those managing the community need to be verified.

“We know we were slow to pick-up foreign interference in the 2016 US elections,” Facebook said, adding that the new updates are designed to prevent future abuse in elections.

By increasing transparency around ads and Pages, Facebook aims to increase accountability for its advertisers as well as users.