Facebook steps up efforts to protect US 2020 election

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 29, 2019 10:46 hrs
The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen

San Francisco: After facing the flak over spread of fake political ads, Facebook on Wednesday announced additional measures it will take to protect elections and prepare for the US 2020 Presidential election.

Starting mid-September, advertisers will need to provide more information about their organization before Facebook reviews and approves their disclaimer.

"If they do not provide this information by mid-October, we will pause their ads," Katie Harbath, Public Policy Director, Global Elections, said in a statement.

According to Facebook, this will help the company confirm the legitimacy of an organization and provide people with more details about who's behind the ads they are seeing.

Last year, Facebook asked advertisers to get authorized before running ads about social issues, elections or politics, and saved those ads in an Ad Library so they're publicly available for seven years.

Advertisers will now have five options for providing more information, three of which demonstrate they are registered with the US government.

"If they choose one of the three government resource options, they will be allowed to use their registered organization name in disclaimers and the 'i' icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner of their ads will read 'Confirmed Organization,'" added Sarah Schiff, Product Manager.

Advertisers must also place a "Paid for by" disclaimer on their ads to communicate who is responsible for them.

Despite these requirements, there are a number of cases where advertisers have attempted to put misleading "Paid for by" disclaimers on their ads.

In addition to providing their US street address, phone number, business email and a business website matching the email, the advertisers need to provide tax-registered organization identification number (i.e. EIN), a government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil and Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number.

Facebook also refreshed the list of social issues in the US to a list of 10 categories, rather than 20 distinct subject areas.