Facebook will require the buyers of ads on issues like race, immigration and guns to verify their identity and location and who is paying for them – the latest effort by the social networking giant to combat Russian methods of election interference.
During the 2016 campaign, the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency published thousands of Facebook ads, many of them not explicitly election-related but still aimed at inflaming divisions in U.S. society and sowing racial discord. Special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators have paid particular attention to such issue-oriented ads as they look into Russian election meddling.
Facebook in October 2017 announced it would require more documentation from advertisers seeking to run federal election ads. The new policy extends that requirement to issue ads, including those related to abortion, crime, the environment, foreign policy, guns, immigration, the military, taxes and terrorism. Other topics may be added to the list over time.
Viewers of the issue ads on Facebook will eventually see a label with the disclosures about the identity, location and funder of the ads, as well as a link to other ads from the same funder, according to the company. A Facebook spokesman said the labels aren’t yet live so advertisers can get used to the new policy before the changes take effect by June.
In April, Facebook endorsed a bill that would require greater public disclosures for online political advertising, including for issue ads.