Users who want to use Facebook for political advertising in India will now need to confirm their identity and location and also give the platform more details about who is placing the ads. This is part of the measures the social media giant announced on Thursday to prevent the abuse of its platform ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Facebook said the steps will aim to bring transparency to political advertisements in the country and prevent foreign interference in the elections.
By early next year, Facebook will start showing a disclaimer on all political advertisements giving more information about who placed them, along with an online searchable advertisement library accessible to all. “This is a library of all ads related to politics from a particular advertiser as well as information like the budget associated with an individual ad, a range of impressions, as well as the demographics of who saw the ad,” the website said.
Facebook said political advertisements will have to be run by an advertiser who has completed the identification authorisation process and been labelled with the disclaimer. “By authorising advertisers and bringing more transparency to ads, we can better defend against foreign interference in India’s elections,” it said.
Last month, Google had also announced its plans to introduce controls on political advertisement funding to check the spread of fake news ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The company had said it will list out regulations, making it mandatory to include disclosures about who paid for the advertisements.
Earlier this year, Facebook attracted criticism after it became public that British political consultation firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed private information of 87 lakh users, including five lakh Indian users. The company had also failed to identify alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Facebook in October had said it would set up a task force in India, comprising security specialists and content specialists who will try to understand all the forms of election-related abuse in the country. “The challenge for the task force in India would be to distinguish between real political news and political propaganda,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy solutions, had said.