In Brief

How Facebook plans to crack down on ‘dark’ political ads

Online records to show who is paying to swing votes amid concerns about election meddling

Facebook is cracking down on so-called dark ads paid for by political groups, in a bid to regain public trust following questions about the platform’s role in the Brexit referendum. 

From today, political groups in the UK will be required to confirm their location and identity before they will be allowed to advertise on Facebook, the BBC reports. 

Adverts will also carry a message showing who paid for them, and all paid-for political content will be published in a public archive for up to seven years. These records will include information about how much the campaign cost and how many people it reached. 

The transparency overhaul will apply to political adverts on Facebook-owned platform Instagram as well.

However, The Guardian reports that Facebook won’t reveal how adverts were targeted “beyond those broad demographics”, so political advertisers could still “target messages to specific groups in secret using keywords and interests”.

The California-based company will begin archiving adverts from 7 November and the records will be available to all interested parties, according to Business Insider

The move is a direct response to controversial ads posted on the social media site during the Brexit referendum and the 2016 presidential election. Russian-linked groups allegedly purchased a number of ads as part of a plot to “sow discord” in the West, The Daily Telegraph says. 

Facebook has already launched the advertising policy revamp in Brazil and the US. 

“We’re up against smart and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse, but we believe that this higher level of transparency is good for democracy and is good for the electoral process,” the company said in a blog post.

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