Earlier this month, Congress published over 3,500 political Facebook ads that appeared to have sowed discord during the 2016 U.S. election. The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment that Russians interfered in the presidential election.
As per the findings of the intelligence agencies, Russia weaponized Facebook to promote divisive issues such as gun control and racial bias.
Last month, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the Senate’s Commerce and Judiciary committees, he promised that his team would make the platform more transparent.
In view of this, Facebook introduced a series of changes to its ad algorithms this week.
On Thursday, Stephen Satterfield, Director of Facebook Policy, shed light on the best practices followed by the social media giant to ensure transparency in electoral and issue ads. He said that the company is focused on five core areas, which include combating foreign interference, fighting fake accounts, boosting investments and security, reducing the spread of false news, and increasing transparency in running ads.
Effective immediately, advertisers who want to place political ads on Facebook can do so only after verifying their identity and location.
The approved advertisement, when appearing in the News Feed, will also disclose who paid for the ad from the advertiser and be available in a searchable archive for up to seven years. The company will also use machine learning to help identify these ads and prevent them from running if an advertiser has not been authorized. Anyone on Facebook can now access the archive, said Facebook in a statement to the press.
According to a report by ABC News, the company said that they are planning to hire 3,000 people to review and monitor content. The social media giant is also working with several advocacy groups on issues like health, public infrastructure, and civil rights.
Rob Leathern, Director of Products on Facebook ads team, said that going forward, all election and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. must be clearly labeled, including a “Paid For By” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad.
“This will help ensure that you can see who’s paying for the ad, which is especially important when the page name doesn’t match the name of the company or person funding the ad. This also meets the commitments we made back in October to increase the transparency of the election-related ads you see on Facebook,” he said.