Facebook To Verify Identities, Require Labels For Political Ads

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San Francisco: For months, Facebook’s critics — ranging from Silicon Valley executives to Washington politicians — have been urging the company to do a better job of identifying who is buying political ads and creating pages about hot-button topics on its social media sites.

Facebook announced it will require political ads on its platform to state who is paying for the message and would verify the identity of the payer, in a bid to curb outside election interference.

Mr. Zuckerberg announced the move in a post on Facebook. He said this verification was meant to prevent foreign interference in elections, like the ads and posts from so-called Russian trolls before and after the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Zuckerberg added that he supported a Senate bill, the Honest Ads Act, that would bring political advertising on the internet more in line with what is required on broadcast television. One of the sponsors of the bill, which has some bipartisan support but is still in the committee stage, said that statement was a reversal from what Facebook had earlier indicated.

Facebook will also soon start clearly labeling political ads and providing more information about them, like who paid for them. Facebook said it is also investing in artificial intelligence and adding more people to help find advertisers that should have gone through the authorisation process but did not.

“We realise we won’t catch every ad that should be labelled, and we encourage anyone who sees an unlabelled political ad to report it. People can do this by tapping the three dots at the top right corner of the ad and selecting Report Ad,” it said.

Facebook also announced that people who manage pages with large number of followers will need to be verified. Those who manage large pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post, it said, adding that this will make it much harder for people to administer a page using a fake account.

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