With India’s general election coming closer, social media company Facebook has started an initiative to prevent misuse of its platform in campaigning.
In a statement, Facebook said that as it will work hard to prevent abuse of its platform ahead of India’s general elections next year, and that it will now vet every political advertiser on Facebook.
An advertiser who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location along with details about who placed the ad. The company emphasised that the identity and location confirmation will take a few weeks, so advertisers should start that process in advance by using their mobile phones or computer to submit proof of identity and location.
This will help avoid delays when they run political ads next year, the company noted.
Along the same lines, early next year, Facebook will start to show a disclaimer on all political ads that provide more information about who’s placing the ad, and an online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access.
The Ad Library will include all ads related to politics from a particular advertiser as well as information like the budget associated with an individual ad, a range of impressions, as well as the demographics of who saw the ad.
At the same time, the company will also enforce a policy that will require all ads related to politics be run by an advertiser who’s completed the authorisation process and be labelled with the disclaimer. However, the company will not require eligible news publishers to get authorised, and their ads won’t be included in the Ad Library.
The company believes that by authorising advertisers and bringing more transparency to ads, they can better “defend against foreign interference in India’s elections.”
Facebook’s power to influence elections came to light after the US Presidential elections of 2016. Post the elections, Facebook got embroiled in accusations that it helped spread misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how Americans voted.
In September, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg published a note on preparing for elections explaining steps taken by Facebook in identifying and removing fake accounts ahead of elections in countries such as France, Germany, Alabama, Mexico, Brazil, and India.