Tech Facebook moves to impress regulators (FB)

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Facebook will now require advertisers that want to run “issue ads” — typically related to political issues — to be verified by the platform

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(BI Intelligence)
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Facebook will now require advertisers that want to run “issue ads” — typically related to political issues — to be verified by the platform, according to a company blog post released last Friday.

The change will occur on Facebook Pages and Instagram. The move comes as Facebook looks to self-regulate its platform, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress this week. It also aims to demonstrate early support for (and compliance with) the Honest Ads Act, a proposed bill that would require tech companies to publicly disclose political advertising on their platforms.

To get authorized to run issue ads, advertisers will need to verify their identity and location. Starting later this spring, each issue ad will be labeled with a marker identifying it as “Political Ad,” with information displayed alongside the ad that will show who paid for it. The authorization process will involve providing Facebook with a government-issued ID and a physical mailing address, as well as information about what or whom the ad is promoting. Users who manage Pages with large followings may also need to verify their identity and location with the social network.

Facebook also says it’s working with outside groups to develop criteria for what’s considered a political ad. This move is aimed at preventing or limiting bad actors who try to interfere with foreign elections, likely in response to revelations that 470 fake Russian Facebook accounts spent about $100,000 on roughly 3,000 ads on the platform during the 2016 US presidential election.

While the figure is small compared with overall estimated political ad spend on digital, which Borrell Associates estimated at more than $1.4 billion, the ads in question were highly inflammatory and reached an estimated 146 million Facebook and Instagram users in the US. Regulators have grown frustrated with Facebook for its lack of oversight in the wake of the news.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday and Wednesday to testify about the company’s use of consumer data. On Tuesday, April 10 at 2:15 p.m. ETthe CEO will appear in a joint hearing before two Senate committees. You can watch a live video of the hearing here. Then on Wednesday, April 11 at 10 a.m. ET, he will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A live stream of that session will likely be available here on the committee’s YouTube page. On Monday, Congress released Zuckerberg’s planned testimony before the House, which you can read in full here.