Facebook, Instagram tighten screws on political ads ahead of 2019 elections

Social media giant Facebook is introducing a series of changes to its policy on how advertisers place political ads on its platform and subsidiary Instagram, measures it thinks, will prevent the use of the social media platforms by malicious actors, ahead of the general elections next year.

Anyone placing a ‘political’ ad on Facebook or Instagram will undergo an authorisation process. The said agency (placing the ad) will have to submit identity credentials and location information along with proofs. The same will be vetted by a Facebook team, virtually or through personal visits, before giving a go-ahead.

In a blog post on Facebook’s news announcements page, product manager Sarah Clark Schiff said the new rules apply to ads that reference political figures, political parties, elections, and legislation, placed by the government entity/actor itself or on its behalf. If placed on somebody’s behalf, the ad agency will have to furnish details of the person or group running the campaign. 

“We’ve rolled out these changes in the US, Brazil, and the UK, and next, we’re taking our first steps towards bringing transparency to ads related to politics in India. This is key as we work hard to prevent abuse on Facebook ahead of India’s general elections next year,” said Schiff in her post. The policies will come into force “early next month”.

Part two of the policy changes is disclaimers. Political ads will now carry additional information on the source of the ad, who’s funded the campaign, and other pieces of information that identify the content and motive of the ads for the general audience. Facebook also recently launched a political ad search directory called Ad Library. The tool allows anyone to search ads that were carried on Facebook and find out a ton background like the budget associated with an individual ad, the range of impressions it received as well as the demographics who saw the ad. This too shall be live (for Indian ads) over the next couple of months.

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