Facebook to vet political ads for UK, Northern Ireland's 2019 elections

Protesters from the pressure group Avaaz demonstrate against Facebook outside Portcullis House in London. (Photo: Reuters)
Facebook Inc. said it will make sure political ads on its platform will be vetted and transparent in time for England and Northern Ireland’s 2019 local elections, the company has said.

Only verified accounts will be allowed to pay for political ads, and users will be able to view all promotions paid for by a campaign — not just those targeted to them based on their demographic or “likes”.

“We’re going to provide a searchable archive of all of those ads, and show who paid for them,” Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer told a UK parliamentary committee Thursday.

Schroepfer is the latest to give evidence to UK lawmakers as part of an investigation into fake news and its impact on elections, in the wake of revelations that vast swathes of Facebook user data were shared with British data firm Cambridge Analytica.

The CTO said Facebook ads would be labeled as “political”, and that all promotions would be available to be searched in an archive the social network will keep available for seven years. Data in the archive will also show how many people may have seen each ad, and how much was paid for their display.