January 28, 2019
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Facebook said on Monday it will beef up its rules and safeguards around political adverts to prevent foreign interference in elections, including those in Europe this year.
The world’s largest social network has faced pressure from regulators and the public after last year’s revelation that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica had improperly acquired data on millions of U.S. users to target election advertising.
“We will require those wanting to run political and issue ads to be authorized, and we will display a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer on those ads,” Facebook’s recently-appointed head of global affairs Nick Clegg told a news conference.
Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister hired by Facebook in October last year, said the new tools to be launched in late March aim to help protect the integrity of European Union elections due to be held this spring.
Facebook said that the transparency tools for electoral ads would be expanded globally before the end of June, while the tools would be in launched in India in February before its elections and in Ukraine and Israel before polls in both.
The tools are similar to those adopted for the U.S. mid-term elections, Clegg said, adding that all political ads will be stored in a publicly searchable library for up to seven years.
This will contain information such as the amount of money spent and the number of impressions displayed, who paid for them and the demographics of those who saw them, including age, gender and location.
The new tools, which will be launched in March, will also cover ‘issue ads’ which do not explicitly back one candidate or political party but which focus on highly politicized topics like immigration.
Facebook said it will also set up two new regional operations centers focused on monitoring election-related content in its Dublin and Singapore offices.
Clegg denied that Facebook sells users’ data.
“Selling people’s information to advertisers would not only be the wrong thing to do, it would undermine the way we do business, because it would reduce the unique value of our service to advertisers,” he said.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alexander Smith)