Facebook on Wednesday announced it would tighten some of its rules around political advertising ahead of the 2020 presidential election, requiring those who purchase ads touting candidates or promoting hot-button issues to provide more information about who actually paid for them. If people are not aware of who is behind those Ads and what they intend to do, their votes will be affected too.
A tax-registered organization identification number (EIN).
Facebook previously determined that hundreds of accounts on its platforms during the 2016 US presidential race were operated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll factory" accused of interfering in the election in part by placing about $100,000 worth of paid political ads on both Facebook and Instagram. Reporting from ProPublica, Vice and other outlets has shown that Facebook's ad tracker sometimes misses political ads while incorrectly flagging non-political ads.
Starting next month, advertisers will be required to provide more information - like street address, Federal Election Commission ID number, or a government or business email that matches their website domain - to prove the identify of their organization before Facebook will review and approve their "Paid for by" disclaimer.
Under the new system there are two ways for groups or individuals to verify their identity: A stricter method under which advertisers Facebook has verified will receive a special "Confirmed Organization" label on their ads, and a second method indicating less confidence in the advertiser's identity.
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In addition to these, they are to provide a phone number, business email and website.
After that, Facebook will label the organization as confirmed in its archives.
"The "I" icons help people on Facebook and Instagram better understand who's trying to influence them and why", said Facebook.
The new requirements, which will go into effect in mid-September, are meant to bolster the platform's security and transparency ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will retool its messaging services to be more interoperable, ephemeral, and with end-to-end encryption.
Gary Coby, a former marketing and advertising director for the Trump 2016 campaign, pointed out that this raised major questions over Facebook's commitment to transparency, and offers a huge advantage to mainstream media organizations.