In a statement published today Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, outlined a series of steps the social media platform are going to take to ‘protect the integrity of the democratic process.’ As part of this, he announced that they will make transparent who is paying for adverts on Facebook and highlight what adverts are being run by political parties.
So-called political ‘dark ads’ have cast a shadow over recent votes in the UK such as the 2016 EU referendum and this year’s General Election. Earlier this year, the UK’s Information Commissioner launched an investigation into a similar issue around the use of data analytics for political purposes.
As things stand currently, election regulators and members of the public have zero knowledge of the full extent of Facebook advertising being put out at any one time by political campaigners, making it difficult to ensure that laws are being followed correctly.
Zuckerberg described the change as ‘perhaps the most important step’ and said:
“We’re going to make political advertising more transparent. When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them. But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook. We will roll this out over the coming months, and we will work with others to create a new standard for transparency in online political ads.”
Alongside this, the Facebook CEO announced a series of other actions that will be taken to protect election integrity but stressed that it “wouldn’t be realistic” to stop all interferences by malicious users.