NEWS29 March 2019

Facebook tightens political ad rules in EU

Data analytics Media News North America Public Sector Technology

US – Facebook has tightened its rules around political advertising ahead of the European parliamentary elections in May in a bid to prevent foreign interference.

Facebook on phone

As part of the new regulations, all advertisers in the EU will first need to be authorised to run political ads relating to the elections. They will need to submit verifiable documents and complete checks to confirm their identity and location through a combination of automated systems and user reporting.

Richard Allan, vice-president, global policy solutions at Facebook, said: We recognise that some people can try and work around any system but we are confident this will be a real barrier for anyone thinking of using our ads to interfere in an election from outside of a country.

“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.”

All Facebook and Instagram ads related to politics and issues in the EU will need to disclose who has ‘paid for’ the ad. Users will be able to see who has paid for an ad, contact details where it’s a business or organisation, the budget associated with the individual ad, how many people have seen it, and their age, location and gender.

This will apply to both directly political ads and those focusing on politicised topics such as immigration, to include “the broad range of ads that are intended to influence the outcome of the election”.

Facebook said it will block ads that have not been authorised from mid-April. However, the rule will not be applied retroactively to existing ads, according to the Guardian.

In the same blog post, Facebook said it has added new features to its searchable ad library tool, which houses all ads classified as relating to politics or issues for seven years.

Allan said: “These changes will not prevent abuse entirely. We’re up against smart, creative and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse. But we believe that they will help prevent future interference in elections on Facebook.”