Ahead of the upcoming European Parliament elections, Facebook has rolled out a host of tools in an attempt to stop its platform being used for foreign interference by nations like Russia and to increase transparency around political advertising across Europe in general. The European Union (EU) elections will take place between 23 May and 26 May.
All EU advertisers will now need to be authorised in their country to run ads related to the European Parliamentary elections. Facebook will demand documents from each advertiser and use other ‘technical checks’ to confirm their identity and location. To enforce this, Facebook will use a combination of automated systems and reports from users.
“Importantly, this means that all the people who are reaching you with ads identified as related to politics or issues have been authorised as being in your country and will be required to provide accurate information about who they are,” said Richard Allan, VP Global Policy Solutions, in a blog post. “This will help relevant authorities investigate them if they have any suspicions. There are many issues that only election regulators can effectively decide, for example if rules on campaign finance have been followed, and our new tools will help them in this important work.”
Facebook will also require all EU political ads on Facebook and Instagram to be clearly labelled, including a ‘Paid for by’ tag at the top of the ad. This will provide users with information regarding who is paying for an ad and, if it’s a business or organisation, their contact details. Furthermore, there will be information about campaign budget associated with the ad, as well as how many people have seen it and their age, location, and gender. Facebook says it will start blocking ads that have not been properly registered from mid-April.
The above details will also be available in Facebook’s ‘Ads Library’, which stores all political ads in its database for seven years.
Facebook says it is working on exempting ads by news publishers from its tools. However, the ability to exempt news stories does not yet available across the entire EU.