Facebook Will Disclose More on Political Ads, Similar to TV

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Tech Giants to Be Grilled on Political Ad Spending

Facebook Inc. said it will start disclosing more about political ads, bringing the social network’s rules closer to what’s required of traditional mediums like television.

Facebook is making the move just days before general counsel Colin Stretch is among the technology company executives set to appear in front of congressional committees looking into Russian ad spending on social media during last year’s U.S. presidential election. 

The company said federal political advertisers will have to verify their identities and locations. Their ads will be appended with a “paid for by” disclosure -- a requirement that will start in the U.S. and expand to other jurisdictions, Facebook said in a blog post. The company also said it plans to build an archive of federal election ads so people can look historically at campaigns.

“We remain deeply committed to helping protect the integrity of the electoral process on Facebook,” the company said Friday. 

Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc. have come under fire from U.S. lawmakers for not recognizing and responding to Russian efforts to sow discord during the election. Earlier this week, Twitter unveiled similar disclosure plans for political ads and said on Thursday it would ban media companies Russia Today and Sputnik from advertising on its site. While the moves at self-regulation have been praised as a good start, lawmakers have introduced the “Honest Ads Act” with more stringent rules for political advertising on social media.

Facebook said it’s expanding transparency measures to all advertising. Marketing spots will have to be linked to a Facebook page running them. A user will be able to click a “view ads” button to see all the active ads that page is sending to various audiences on Facebook. That test will start in Canada next month and expand to the U.S. by next summer, ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November.

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