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Ahead of elections, Facebook says it will block unauthorized campaign ads

The social media giant has announced that it has identified the “thousands of profiles” belonging to parties and candidates to urge them to register

The entrance to the Facebook HQ in California.
The entrance to the Facebook HQ in California.

The Facebook pages of political parties and candidates wishing to run campaign ads will need to register first.

The social media giant is rolling out a tool to avoid outside interference and increase transparency ahead of elections in Spain and the European Union.

Starting last Friday, “political parties and candidates campaigning in these elections will be required to complete ad authorizations and place ‘Paid for by’ disclaimers on all of their ads until the end of the election period,” according to a company statement.

Political parties and candidates campaigning in these elections will be required to complete ad authorizations

Facebook

This tool was created in 2018 and Facebook has already used it in the United States, Britain, Brazil, India and Ukraine.

All the ads will be stored in a public repository containing data about the page, the money that was invested and the number of people who viewed it, as well as their profiles.

This database will also include ads on Instagram, which is part of the Facebook network. Starting on April 15, the company will block ads by parties or groups that have failed to follow this procedure.

Facebook had already announced this measure with a view to the European Union elections of May 26. Then Spain announced a snap general election for April 28. The social networking platform said it has made an effort to make its tool available in Spain earlier than planned.

There is no precedent for the social media platform’s effort for Spain, says the company

Thousands of content reviewers are drafting a list with “thousands of pages” representing parties and candidates who are running in the elections, based on a list provided by the authorities.

The company has tried to adopt special measures to deal with the Spanish call for general elections. “We hope political parties will start to register. They should do so in their own best interest. If you are a serious political party, you will want to be authorized,” warned Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice-President for Public Policy, in a virtual news conference from London with a group of Spanish media outlets.

According to Allan, there is no precedent for the social media platform’s effort for Spain: “We will try to identify all the Facebook pages of parties and candidates. When we have that list, we will send a message to all the administrators and tell them that if they want to run ads, they must go through the system.”

Despite the effort, the system is not perfect. “To try to catch everything is...,” said Allan, pausing in search of a word other than “impossible.” “There is a real time pressure,” he told the media.

English version by Susana Urra.

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