Facebook reports Monday that they are actively taking a stand to revamp their current rules and safeguards around political adverts to prevent foreign influences during election season, specifically in relation to those taking place in Europe this coming year. After last year’s exposure that the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica was unjustly collecting data on millions of U.S. voters to tamper with election advertising on the social media platform, Facebook has faced extreme pressure from regulators and the public. With 2019 holding many important elections such as the European Parliament and those in several EU countries, fears of misinformation and interference have magnified among users, however, the company stands strong to implement measures to protect its users against any dangerous influences that may exist, beginning a movement all businesses should follow.
According to Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, the social media company “will require those wanting to run political issue ads to be authorized and we will display a [paid for by] disclaimer on those ads.” The company reports they have a total of 30,000 people working in this division, making it their goal to protect the safety and security of its users. These actions and new tools are like those used during the U.S. mid-term elections. All political ads will be stored publicly for up to seven years, including their statistics relating to the amount of money spent, who paid, the number of times displayed, and the specific demographics of viewers. Issue ads will also be covered under these changes, protecting users from advertising that backs one candidate or party on intensified political topics. These new tools can be expected to launch in late March for EU elections but can be accessed globally by June. Facebook also reports their action to set up two regional operation centers focused on monitoring content to defending against fake news, hate speech, and suppression of voters.
In addition to attempts to protect voter safety, Facebook also has addressed rumors that they were selling their user data, stating that this is untrue and unjust. Clegg states “selling people’s information to advertisers would not only be the wrong thing to do, it would undermine the way we do business, because it would reduce the unique value of our service to advertisers.” The reason ads exist is so the platform can continue to provide free service to all, standing for equality and fairness, leading by example for other businesses and platforms to learn from.