Facebook on Wednesday announced it would tighten some of its rules around political advertising ahead of the 2020 presidential election by adding new requirements for political ad buyers, requiring those who purchase ads promoting candidates or hot-button issues to provide more information about who actually paid for them.
This is part of the company’s efforts to make the platform more secure in the run-up to the US 2020 election. Advertisers will need to provide more information about their organization, including government-issued identification numbers before buying a political ad.
Sarah Schiff, product manager at Facebook said, “In 2018 we did see evidence of misuse in these disclaimers and so this is our effort to strengthen the process.”
Last year, Vice News journalists managed to place ads on behalf of figures and groups including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and “Islamic State.”
Not to forget, under scrutiny from regulators after Russian agents spread disinformation on the site during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been rolling out ad transparency tools country by country since last year. The changes seek to address a number of well-documented incidents where users placed misleading or inaccurate disclaimers on ads, completely undermining a system for election transparency that the tech giant built.
Just last week, conservative news outlet The Epoch Times was banned by Facebook from advertising on the platform after it used different pages to push pro-Trump ads.
As of now, Facebook already requires that political advertisers verify their identities and location.
But as from September, to satisfy Facebook’s new requirements, commercial businesses, nonprofits, and non-governmental organizations can submit their tax-identification numbers. Government and military advertisers will have to provide a web domain and email address that ends in .gov or .mil. On the other hand, campaigns can share their own registration data from the Federal Election Commission, and Facebook will label them as a “confirmed organization” in its archive.
To show a “confirmed organization,” an “i” icon will appear on the upper right-hand corner of the ad. Clicking that icon will reveal additional information about the advertiser, including their government ID number.
All advertisers running ads on politics or social issues will also have to post their contact information, even if they are not seeking the official label.
Advertisers must comply by mid-October or risk having their ads cut off.
“While the authorization process won’t be perfect, it will help us confirm the legitimacy of an organization and provide people with more details about who’s behind the ads they are seeing,” the company said in a blog post.
In order to target voters, paid Facebook ads have become a major tool for political campaigns and other organizations.
According to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic firm that tracks digital ad spending; President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent about $9.6 million this year on ads on the site. Believe it or not! This makes him the top spender among the US 2020 candidates.