Facebook Tightens Rules For Political Adverts Ahead Of US Elections

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 1, 2018.  JOSH EDELSON / AFP


Facebook said Wednesday it would tighten its rules for political ad spending ahead of the 2020 US elections, notably by requiring more information about who is paying for campaign messages.

The move is the latest by Facebook to crack down on efforts to deceive or manipulate users after the social network admitted lapses in the 2016 election.

While Facebook has already begun requiring political advertisers to provide identification to confirm who they are and where they are located, the new policy requires more information to show they are registered with the US government.

This new verification can be done by submitting a tax identification number or proof that the group is registered with the Federal Election Commission.

“People should know who is trying to influence their vote and advertisers shouldn’t be able to cover up who is paying for ads,” a Facebook blog post said.

The new steps call for “strengthening the authorization process for US advertisers, showing people more information about each advertiser and updating our list of social issues” for advertisers.

Facebook said organizations that fail to submit the verification will see their ads “paused” by mid-October.

Smaller businesses or local politicians unable to meet the new requirements may still be able to place ads on Facebook by providing a verifiable phone number and mailing address or personal information, but the ads will not be tagged as being from a “confirmed organization.”

Facebook said it planned to make improvements to its “ad library” to more easily track and compare spending of US presidential candidates.

It also said it would prohibit ads “that expressly discourage people in the US from voting,” in response to recent civil rights audit.

Account holders for national candidates will be required to use two-factor authentication and verify their location “so that we can confirm these pages are using real accounts and are located in the US,” Facebook said.


Facebook To Extend Political Advert Changes

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal
FILE COPY                                                                                                                                      Credit: AFP


Facebook on Thursday said that it would be extending a raft of measures to allow its users to identify the source of political adverts that appear in their feed to Britain next year.

The US social media giant’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer appeared before a British parliamentary committee probing the role of fake news in recent votes, and how data gathered from the network was used to target potential voters.

Schroepfer admitted that Facebook had been “slow” in realising how its data was being used following revelations that British communications firm Cambridge Analytica mined information on around 90 million users.

“We didn’t understand the threat,” he said.

“I can’t fix that back then, but I can devote my time and energy to two things: one is, with the specific acts, we build every defence we can, and then two, we do a deeper more rigorous forward-looking… proactive defence.”

Under new plans to be implemented in Britain next year, those seeking to run political adverts will need to be authorised and ads that are political will be required to be labelled as such, along with details of who funded them.

Any ad labelled political will be available for seven years in Facebook’s archive, which will allow users to search the amount spent on the ad and the number of views it received.

The changes were introduced in the US earlier this month.

Schroepfer admitted that Facebook had not read the terms and conditions of the app, developed by academic Aleksandr Kogan’s research firm Global Science Research (GSR), used to harvest its data.

Conservative MP Julian Knight slammed the social media giant, accusing it of being “a morality-free zone.”

Schroepfer replied that he would “respectfully disagree with that assessment.”

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg previously blamed Kogan for the data breach, telling US lawmakers that he had broken the rules by selling the data to CA.

Kogan, who teaches at Cambridge University, told the committee on Tuesday that he did not sell data, and said the US social media giant was scapegoating him as it was in “PR crisis mode”.


British TV Commentator Sues Facebook Over ‘Scam’ Adverts

Facebook Faces 'Oppenheimer Moment' Over Trump Scandal


A personal finance expert who appears regularly on British television launched legal action on Monday against Facebook, claiming it had published more than 50 fake posts bearing his name last year.

Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert, lodged a defamation lawsuit against the US-based social network over the ads published last year, many of which were used to scam money out of people.

Lewis said he would donate any damages to charity and hoped the case would set a precedent for similar fake celebrity endorsements.

“I’ve had enough of this. It’s affecting my reputation, but more importantly it is affecting real people who are handing over money in good faith while the scammers are raking in the cash,” he said.

“There are customers who have lost a lot of money. Some of them won’t even talk to me because they’ve seen my face on the advert and think it’s me who has scammed them,” he said.

“I hope to open up a legal remedy for other people who have found themselves in the same boat,” he said.

Facebook has denied Lewis’s assertion that these types of false endorsements on adverts are widespread.

“We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed,” the company said in a statement.

The company said in relation to Lewis’s case that “several adverts and accounts” that violated Facebook’s advertising policies have already been taken down.


Twitter Bans Cryptocurrency Adverts Over Fraud Fears

Bitcoin Plunges As Investors Suffer 'Reality Check'
(FILES) This file photo taken on June 17, 2014, shows bitcoin medals in Washington, DC. KAREN BLEIER / AFP


Twitter on Monday announced a ban on adverts for initial offerings of cryptocurrency or sales of virtual currency tokens, sending the value of bitcoin diving below $8,000.

Twitter followed the lead of Google and Facebook, which earlier this year cracked down on digital currency ads to protect users from being duped.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Twitter community,” Twitter said in a statement.

“As such, we have added a new policy for Twitter Ads relating to cryptocurrency.”

Under the new policy, the advertisement of ICOs and token sales will be prohibited at the global one-to-many messaging platform.

Some startups have used ICOs, or initial currency offerings, to raise billions of dollars in a highly volatile, unregulated market.

Twitter said,”We know that this type of content is often associated with deception and fraud, both organic and paid, and are proactively implementing a number of signals to prevent these types of accounts from engaging with others in a deceptive manner.”

The value of bitcoin dropped eight percent to $7929, after the Twitter ad ban was announced, based on market data from Bloomberg.

The new policy leaves open the door for ads for cryptocurrency exchanges or secure “wallet” services offered by public companies listed on some major exchanges.

Twitter planned to modify its ad policy as the digital currency market evolves, as well as its ability to distinguish dubious marketing messages.

The British government early this year called for global regulation of controversial virtual currency bitcoin, adding that the G20 would address the topic this month.

Bitcoin is independent of governments and banks and uses blockchain technology, where encrypted digital coins are created by supercomputers.

The virtual currency is not regulated by any central bank but is instead overseen by a community of users who try to guard against counterfeiting.

Virtual currency exchanges have seen tremendous volatility, and have sparked concerns they can be used to launder money for criminal networks.


Facebook Boss, Zuckerberg Apologises In Newspaper Adverts

A man reads a full-page advertisement, taken out by Mark Zuckerberg, the chairman and chief executive officer of Facebook to apologise for the large-scale leak of personal data from the social network, on the back page of a newspaper, in Ripon, England on March 25, 2018.


Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg took out full-page ads in nine major British and US newspapers on Sunday to apologise for a huge data privacy scandal.

“We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t we don’t deserve it,” he said.

The ads ran in prominent positions in six British nationals, including the best-selling Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Times and The Observer — which helped break the story — as well as the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Zuckerberg explained there was a quiz developed by a university researcher “that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014”.

“This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The ad reflects public statements Zuckerberg made last week after the row prompted investigations in Europe and the United States, and sent Facebook’s share price plunging.

He repeated that the social media giant had changed the rules on apps so no such data breach could happen again.

“We’re also investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others,” he wrote.

“And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.”

There was no mention of the British firm accused of using the data, Cambridge Analytica, which worked on US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

It too has blamed the University of Cambridge researcher Alexsandr Kogan, for any potential breach of data rules

Kogan created a lifestyle quiz app for Facebook which was downloaded by 270,000 people but allowed access to tens of millions of their contacts.

Facebook says he passed this to Cambridge Analytica without its knowledge. Kogan says he is being made a scapegoat.