Facebook updates ad policies to prevent ‘Russian interference’
Facebook is increasing authenticity requirements for advertisers, adding over 1000 people to its ad review staff after claiming it found paid postings on “divisive” social issues that “appeared” to stem from a Russian entity.
A Facebook user will be able to see not only what a Page or an account is advertising to them directly, but also what other ads that Page is running for other users, the social media giant’s VP Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan said in a blog post Monday. The company hopes that “more transparency will mean more people can report inappropriate ads,” Kaplan wrote.
In addition, Facebook said it will hire over 1,000 extra staff to find and remove “improper” ads. It will also require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run US federal election-related ads, the Facebook spokesman said. “Potential advertisers will have to confirm the business or organization they represent before they can buy ads.”
Facebook said it was cooperating with US congressional and special counsel investigations into Russia’s alleged meddling in the US election by handing over around 3000 ads which it said “appear to have come from a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency.”
The ads ran between 2015 and 2017, Kaplan wrote. “Many appear to amplify racial and social divisions.”
One of the ads shared with Congress allegedly featured photographs of an armed black woman “dry firing” a rifle, the Washington Post reported citing unnamed people “familiar with the investigation.” Facebook discovered the ads only recently, company head Mark Zuckerberg said in September.
“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary?” President Donald Trump tweeted on September 22, adding “The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media ‘screaming’ for Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
Last week, Trump complained that not only were major US media outlets against him during the election, but also Facebook.
Zuckerberg took issue with the charge and posted, “Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like.”
“Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found,” Zuckerberg added, referring to the 3000 ads which the company says “appear” to be linked to Russia.
However, Zuckerberg said in the same post that he regretted his comments made after the election, in which he called it crazy to say that misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the presidential election.
“This is too important an issue to be dismissive,” he said.
Moscow has repeatedly denied interfering in the US election.
Trump said the Russia story is a “total fabrication," serving as an excuse for Democrats for the “greatest loss in the history of American politics.”