Facebook is releasing its promised new political advertising announcements on Thursday – including so-called issue ads used by Russian-language accounts to spread misinformation and chaos in the 2016 election.
The disclosure contains a tag attached to ads indicating who paid for them. Advertisers must email Facebook to confirm they are resident in the US before they can place political ads for Americans.
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"We are dealing with smart, creative and financially strong opponents who change their tactics when we discover abuses," said Rob Leathern, Facebook's Director of Product Management, in a blog post , "But we believe they will help prevent future electoral interference in Facebook."
Facebook has been heavily criticized since the 2016 race for allowing nefarious actors, including those affiliated with Russia, to use the platform to intervene in this contest. Accounts linked to Russia particularly use thematic ads that address political issues such as gun control or immigration but do not mention a specific candidate or election campaign.
Katie Harbath, Facebook's global policy and outreach director, told reporters on a Thursday call that the ads are an important part of the effort and said, "After all, there are many Russian ads. The election focused fanning passions about divisive issues "rather than candidates.
Company representatives stated on the conference call that they had heard concerns, including from news publishers, that their advertising might be mislabeled as problem solving. Facebook said it will maintain an archive of these ads so that the public, including academic researchers, will be able to judge their decision. "We will continue to work on the process and continue to improve," said Harbath.
Facebook users can turn the company into ads that they think are political or problem-related, but lack the required disclosures. The company announced next month the introduction of a tool that will allow Facebook users to view all ads from a single advertiser, including budget details for the ad campaign and the audience. The tool is currently being tested in Canada, the company said.
The new publishing features will also be available on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Facebook mocked initially the idea that the activities on its platform had influenced the 2016 election that led Donald Trump to the presidency. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it a "pretty crazy idea" that fake news on Facebook had waved the vote , But the company has since taken a number of steps to address threats to the democratic process. The company has let users know if they have been dealing with Russian trolls on the site, and it is reported that it uses artificial intelligence to identify fraudulent accounts.
Facebook's role in the election drew the attention of Congress. Sens Mark Warner (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), And John McCain (R-Ariz.) Have campaigned for a bill called the "Honest Ads Act," which would require disclosure of political and thematic ads on the Internet , but it did not prevail.
Twitter announced Thursday that it will introduce disclosure requirements for political advertising this summer. The company said that problem ads are covered by "a separate upcoming policy".