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Facebook announces measures to protect the upcoming European Union elections

Facebook has finally set out the measures it will take to protect the upcoming European Parliament elections in order to stop meddling by foreign powers. The plans were announced earlier this year, but now we have a list of concrete measures that Facebook is planning to implement.

Richard Allan, VP Global Policy Solutions at Facebook, explained the company’s motives for rolling out these measures:

“We are introducing some new tools to help us deliver on two key goals that experts have told us are important for protecting the integrity of elections — preventing online advertising from being used for foreign interference, and increasing transparency around all forms of political and issue advertising.”

The first measure will be to authorise advertisers. Before anyone can post ads, they must submit identification documents and use technical checks to confirm their identity and location. Facebook admits this can be worked around but that it creates a barrier for anyone thinking to use ads to interfere. The policy will be enforced by automated systems and user reporting.

Another measure will clue voters in on who is paying for ads that they see. All political and issue ads that appear on Facebook and Instagram in the EU will now include information on who paid for the ad, their contact information, the budget associated with the individual ads, and who saw the ad based on their age, locations, and gender.

Facebook will start to block ads from campaigns who haven’t properly registered beginning in mid-April.

Lastly, Facebook will open up the Ad Library to those in the EU. Ad Library lets anyone find information about political or issue ads on Facebook. Authorities who oversee things like campaign financing will be able to use Ad Library in order to further their investigations; data will remain available for seven years. Once you find an ad that you’re interested in you can click See Ad Details to retrieve information such as how many times it was viewed and by which demographics.

The Ad Library will be accessible via a new update API so that news outlets, regulators, watchdog groups and people, in general, can hold Facebook and advertisers to account more easily with third-party tools.

Facebook finished off the post saying that it hopes the measures will stem the rate of interference but that it knows it can’t stop everything. It has, therefore, warned users to report ads relating to politics and issues if they’re not clearly labelled.

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