In the wake of recent scandals about social media and its impact in political campaigns and elections, two of the worlds largest social media companies have, almost at the same time, announced new rules and guidelines for the promotion of politically related advertising.
Both Twitter and Facebook came under fire for their role in the spread of so-called “fake news” via automated bots, or disguised accounts based in Russia.
As of today, Facebook’s new policy goes into effect for ads in the US on both Facebook and Instagram, requiring that all political ads are labelled as such, and that the identities of those paying for the ads are both disclosed, and verified.
They will roll out the policy world-wide over the next few months.
In a similar vein, Twitter will be requiring “election labels” for ads endorsing US candidates, and advertisers will be required to provide notarised (certified) forms to verify that they are based in the United States.
They will also require that account holders who purchase this kind of advertising must have their profiles linked to a website providing valid contact information.
Not Just Candidates
Facebook has also stated that they won’t just be requiring that ads for candidates are verified, but also ads which attempt to sway users in one direction or another on what they call “hot-button political issues.”
Facebook product management director, Rob Leathern, wrote in a blog post that, “Starting today, all election-related and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must be clearly labelled – including a ‘Paid for by’ disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad.”
According to Mark Zuckerberg, the goal of the new policy is “making sure we help prevent interference and misinformation in elections.”
Facebook, in conjunction with the Comparative Agendas Project, a non-partisan research centre, has identified a list of 20 issues on which they will require disclosure and validation for ads relating to them.
These issues include abortion, civil rights, the environment, foreign policy, guns and immigration.
They will also be working with election regulators and organisers in various countries as it implements the policy globally.