Facebook to verify political ads ahead of elections in Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Facebook announced on Friday that it will require any 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.

The social network, which is under fire for enabling manipulation of its platform in the 2016 election, said the new policy would require any messages for candidates or public issues to include the label “political ad” with the name of the person or entity paying for it.

In reply to a comment on his post, Zuckerberg stated, “Yes — 2018 has important elections across the US, Mexico, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Hungary and many other countries. We’re working on rolling our AI tools out everywhere and in all these languages.”

The underfire Facebook CEO further said, “We have more work to do here and we’re going to continue working very hard to defend against them. There’s the Mexican presidential election, there are big elections in India and Brazil as well as in Pakistan and Hungary and a number of other countries and the US midterms, of course.”

Facebook made the announcement as Zuckerberg prepares to appear before Congress next week to answer questions about the harvesting of personal data on 87 million users by a British political consultancy working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“These steps by themselves won’t stop all people trying to game the system,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “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.”

A separate Facebook statement said the changes would help improve transparency and accountability of the network.

“We believe that when you visit a page or see an ad on Facebook, it should be clear who it’s coming from,” the statement said.

“We also think it’s important for people to be able to see the other ads a page is running, even if they’re not directed at you.”

To get authorised by Facebook, “advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location,” the statement said.

“Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads — electoral or issue-based — until they are authorised.”