Facebook announced additional steps the company is taking to protect elections and prepare for the US 2020 election.
Those steps include strengthening the authorization process for US advertisers, showing people more information about each advertiser and updating the list of social issues in the US to better reflect the public discourse on and off Facebook.
In 2018, Facebook started requiring advertisers to get authorized before running ads about social issues, elections or politics. The company also saves those ads in an Ad Library so they’re publicly available for seven years.
The authorization process already requires advertisers in the US to provide identification to confirm who they are and where they are located. Advertisers must also place a “Paid for by” disclaimer on their ads to communicate who is responsible for them. Despite these requirements, Facebook says there are a number of cases where advertisers have attempted to put misleading “Paid for by” disclaimers on their ads. That’s why, starting mid-September, advertisers will need to provide more information about their organization before Facebook review and approve their disclaimer. If they do not provide this information by mid-October, Facebook says it will pause their ads.
Advertisers will have five options for providing more information, three of which demonstrate they are registered with the US government. If they choose one of the three government resource options, they will be allowed to use their registered organization name in disclaimers and the “i” icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner of their ads will read “Confirmed Organization.”
In addition to providing their US street address, phone number, business email and a business website matching the email, they must provide one of the following:
- Tax-registered organization identification number (i.e. EIN)
- A government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil
- Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number
Advertisers will also be able to choose one of the following two options:
- Submit an organization name by providing a verifiable phone number, business email, mail-deliverable address and a business website with a domain that matches the email.
- Provide no organizational information and rely solely on the Page Admin’s legal name on their personal identification document. For this option, the advertiser will not be able to use a registered organization name in disclaimers.
For advertisers that choose one of these two options, the “i” icon will read “About this ad” instead of “Confirmed Organization.”
Facebook is also refreshing the list of social issues in the US to a list of 10 categories, rather than 20 distinct subject areas. The list is meant to be fluid to reflect the public discourse around social issues on and off Facebook that seek to influence public opinion through advocacy, debate or discussion. Facebook also left it intentionally broad as the company worked to refine it over time. Today’s update will bring the US list in line with issue lists in countries who have recently held elections.
Over the coming months, Facebook promised to provide greater transparency on the ads and content people see on Facebook. These updates will include:
- More enhancements to Facebook's Ad Library, such as making it easier to track and compare spending of US presidential candidates
- Expand the company's policy to prohibit ads that expressly discourage people in the US from voting, a commitment we made as part of a recent civil rights audit
- Requiring all Pages for national candidates or elected officials to go through Page Publishing Authorization, which requires that Page administrators turn on two-factor authentication and verify their primary country location so that Facebook can confirm these Pages are using real accounts and are located in the US
- Expose more information about a Page, such as the business or organization behind it
Under scrutiny from regulators since Russia used social media platforms to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been rolling out ad transparency tools country by country since last year.