MASTERCLASSING

Facebook to make ads more transparent, now requires political advertisers to verify

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook View AdsFacebook is increasing transparency and advertising controls, as it looks to gain a handle on outside election interference, just after Twitter did the same – even banning Russia Today and Sputnik.

Starting next month, Facebook users will be able to click on a ‘View Ads’ button on a Page and see the ads it is running on Facebook, Instagram, and on Messenger. To ensure that all ads appear in the section, the social network now requires that all ads are associated with a Page as part of the ad creation process.

Facebook will begin testing the ‘View Ads’ feature in Canada, before rolling it out to the US by summer 2018, ahead of the US midterm elections in November. The feature will also be rolled out more broadly to other countries around the same time as in the US.

Initially, Facebook will only show active ads, but it plans to expand federal-election related ads to include an archived section also.

“We know how important it is to our community that we get this feature just right — and so we’re first rolling it out in only one country,” said Rob Goldman, VP of ads at Facebook. “Testing in one market allows us to learn the various ways an entire population uses the feature at a scale that allows us to learn and iterate. Starting in Canada was a natural choice as this effort aligns with our election integrity work already underway there.”

On top of introducing the ability to see what ads a Page is running, Facebook will now require political advertisers to confirm their identity.

The verification process will see advertisers that are running election-related advertising have to verify “both their entity and location”. Once verified, the advertiser will have to include a ‘Paid for by’ disclosure.

To ensure that all political advertisers are forced to verify, Facebook says it is building machine learning tools to detect which advertisers are running political ads and not disclosing themselves.

“We remain deeply committed to helping protect the integrity of the electoral process on Facebook,” said Goldman. “And we will continue to work with our industry partners, lawmakers and our entire community to better ensure transparency and accountability in our advertising products.”

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