Facebook and Twitter have announced new measures aimed at combating efforts by foreign sources to interfere in U.S. elections. The moves target the kind of efforts used by Russian-linked agents in the 2016 presidential election and largely aim to increase transparency around political ads and the people that pay for them.
All political and issue ads appearing on Facebook will now bear a clear “Paid for by XYZ” disclaimer showing who bought the ad. The company says this will help ensure users can identify who paid for the ad, something especially important when the page name doesn’t match the name of the company or person buying the ad.
Additionally, when a user clicks on the label they’ll be taken to an archive with more information about the ad, including the campaign budget associated with it and how many times it’s been viewed.
“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. And it is why they are so important,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the guidelines.
“One of my top priorities for 2018 is making sure we help prevent interference and misinformation in elections. These changes won’t fix everything, but they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads. I hope they’ll also raise the bar for all political advertising online,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the changes.
Twitter will also be including “Paid for by…” disclaimers on political ads. They also announced stricter requirements for political advertisers.
Advertisers who want to run political ads on Twitter will be required to self-identify and certify that they are located in the U.S. Candidates, campaigns and committees will have to provide their FEC ID and non-FEC registered organizations and individuals will have to submit a notarized form.
Twitter will then send a letter to the mailing address registered with the FEC to validate the identity and location of all political advertisers. Foreign nationals will be prohibited from targeting political ads to U.S. based persons.
“This is just the beginning of our efforts in increased transparency for all advertising on Twitter. We will continue to iterate and improve our efforts in this space and will be providing updates along the way,” the company said in a statement.
Photo by Facebook