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Facebook ramps up efforts to make elections ads more transparent, to start enforcement on February 21

Staff reporter, New Delhi
08/02/2019   0 Comments

Social networking giant Facebook, on Thursday, announced that it would begin enforcement of its advertising transparency policy for India on February 21. Facebook will also introduce two label categories for its disclaimers — “paid for by” and “published by”— including the name of the individual or the entity behind the ad, which will be displayed in every political ad. She added that the company had authorised “1000s” of people who had completed the mandatory authorisation, a process Facebook launched in December 2018 for what it calls “identity confirmation”. The offline authorisation process, the company confirmed, is being done by third-party agency. Facebook declined to name the agency. 

Schiff claimed that a step-by-step approach to introducing ad transparency ensures political advertisers have enough time to complete all necessary steps. Facebook will also roll out the linking up of ad accounts for authorised advertisers, along with two new disclaimer categories it is adding for political ads — a “paid for by” label, which will be on the Facebook Page they run. If the advertiser names another organization as the paymaster, Facebook will demand additional credentials (phone number, email, website or a “Media Certification & Monitoring Committee Certificate” from the Election Commission). 

Facebook considers India as its largest market, with over 294 million monthly active users. In a recent investor call, Dave Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, said that Facebook’s daily active users reached 1.52 billion in Q4 2018, a 9% increase from 2017, “led by growth in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.” The company added that it would also launch its ad library for India, starting Thursday, with India having its own ad library report next month. Schiff said, “Anyone who is or is not a Facebook user can see the whole bunch of political ads launched on to Facebook. It will reveal who is responsible for these ads, the demographics they have reached (age, gender etc). It will also carry the disclaimer credentials of the advertiser. We expose who the ad reached or who the ad delivered to.” 

Facebook also said, that, post the disclaimer process, the advertiser would have to check a box, declaring the political nature of the ad, failing which the advertisement may not be visible on Facebook, or will be taken down by its set of automated and human reviewers. It added users also have an option to report an ad of a 'political nature' that does not carry a disclaimer. Besides ad transparency, Facebook will also show the location of the people who are running pages with political ads in India. “As part of location transparency, we will start showing the location of all pages that have disclaimers,” Schiff said. It also made two-factor authentication mandatory for people who manage “pages with a large audience in India”, requiring them to confirm their primary country location “to be able to continue to post to their Pages”.

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