Facebook Inc. on Wednesday said it was enforcing more stringent rules for political advert rules in the United States to curb interference ahead of the presidential election in November 2020. The new rules apply to its app and photo-sharing platform, Instagram.
One of the new rules for political advertisers includes getting a “confirmed organisation” label to prove their authenticity.
In the past, anyone could sponsor an ad, provided the contents did not flout existing Facebook policies. However, the social network is tightening its rules. All advertisers who wish to run ads will have to post their contact information or risk having their ads cut-off.
Russia, in 2016 leveraged on social media platforms to meddle in the US presidential election according to US media. According to media reports, the aim was to increase political and social discord in the United States with the goal to harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boost the candidacy of Donald Trump. Fabricated articles and disinformation were spread from Russian government-controlled media and promoted on social networks including Facebook and Instagram.
Since social networks have been under scrutiny by regulators, Facebook has been introducing transparency tools for each country since last year.
Starting in May 2018, Facebook began requiring that political advertisers in the United States must include a “paid for by” disclaimer on their ads. The company, however, reported that some culprits had tried to beat the system by using misleading disclaimers or registering organisations which did not exist.
“In 2018, we did see evidence of misuse in these disclaimers and so this is out effort to strengthen the process,” the product manager at Facebook said.
Paid adverts have become a major tool for any organisation to pull traffic and target a specific audience. Political campaigners are not left behind. Last week, Facebook banned conservative news outlet, The Epoch Times from sponsoring ads on its platform after it opened different pages to push pro-Trump ads.
So far, President Donald Trump has been the most top spender among the 2020 candidates, according to a report from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a firm that tracks digital ad spending. His re-election campaign has spent about $9.6m on ads across social media platforms.
Last year, Facebook introduced a process that required political advertisers to submit a US mailing address and an identity document. Henceforth, they will also have to submit a valid US phone number, business email, a website, a Federal Election Commission ID number, tax-registered organisation number or government website domain matching an official email, to get a “confirmed organisation” label.