Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday that the social media portal will require all political ads on its platform to clearly mention who is paying for the message and for their identity to be verified, "in a bid to curb outside election interference".
The announcement comes as an important development in the face of general elections due in a few months in Pakistan.
"With important elections coming up in the US, Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan and more countries in the next year, one of my top priorities for 2018 is making sure we support positive discourse and prevent interference in these elections," Zuckerberg revealed in an official post on Facebook.
Zuckerberg announced that starting Friday Facebook would be taking more big steps:
- First, from now on, every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be verified. To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Any advertiser who doesn't pass will be prohibited from running political or issue ads.
- Facebook will also label them and advertisers will have to show who paid for them. Initially its starting in the US and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months.
- For even greater political ads transparency, Facebook has also built a tool that lets anyone see all of the ads a page is running. It’s testing this in Canada now and will launch it globally this summer.
- Facebook is also creating a searchable archive of past political ads.
- It will require people who manage large pages to be verified as well. This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way.
Zuckerberg assures that in order to require verification for all of these pages and advertisers, Facebook will hire thousands of more people.
"We're committed to getting this done in time for the critical months before the 2018 elections," he said.
Also read: How to win the 2018 elections
According to the founder of the social media platform, Facebook took down a large network of Russian fake accounts earlier this week that included a Russian news organisation.
“These steps by themselves won't stop all people trying to game the system,” the Facebook chief said. “But they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads.”
"Election interference is a problem that's bigger than any one platform, and that's why we support the Honest Ads Act. This will help raise the bar for all political advertising online," the post concluded.