The Financial Times reports that Facebook will require extra checks from people buying advertisements on political issues ranging from abortion and guns, to education and foreign policy, as the social network tries to make it harder for foreign adversaries to manipulate elections.
A preliminary list of 20 different “national issues of public importance”, which stretch from the contentious such as immigration and the environment, to broad categories such as “values” and government reform was unveiled. Advertisers wishing to promote messages on any side of these issues in the US will now have to prove to Facebook that there is a US resident behind their page and tell the company who is funding the political ads.
Monika Bickert, vice-president of global policy management at Facebook, said the information advertisers provide about who paid for an advert would be used to label it and place the ad in an archive of political ads for anyone to see.
The policy, Facebook says, brings more transparency to online advertising and helps prevent abuse on the platform, while still promoting legitimate discussion of social issues and honest civic debate.
The FT report adds that disinformation campaigns from Russia and others are just one of the many problems Facebook is trying to tackle. It is still trying to recover from the revelation of a massive data leak to Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign.
Facebook has been trying to make changes to get out ahead of the proposed Honest Ads Act, put forward by senators Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar and John McCain, which tries to extend the declarations required for political ads in traditional media online. Facebook and Twitter have endorsed the act.