We’re committed to creating an entirely new standard of transparency when it comes to political advertising on Facebook. Today we want to share an update on our progress in the UK.
Different countries maintain their own standards and laws to ensure that people know who pays for the political advertising they see. People rightly expect that these standards will be reflected online, and we’ve been testing a range of ways of not only meeting those requirements in online political advertising, but going one step further by telling you who paid for an advert and housing all these ads for up to seven years in an Ad Library. This helps people have the information they need to assess ads that relate to politics.
From today, all advertisers wanting to run ads in the UK that reference political figures, political parties, elections, legislation before Parliament and past referenda that are the subject of national debate, will need to verify their identity and location and carry a “Paid for by” disclaimer. We see this as an important part of ensuring electoral integrity and helping people understand who they are engaging with. We recognise that this is going to be a significant change for people who use our service to publish this type of ad. While the vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organisations, we know that there are bad actors that try to misuse our platform. By having people verify who they are, we believe it will help prevent abuse.
In addition to being clear about who is funding an ad, when you click on the “Paid for by” label, you will be taken to the UK’s own Ad Library. This will include a range of the ad’s budget and number of people reached, and the other ads that Page is running. The library is completely searchable and, as of today, can now be accessed by anyone in the world regardless of whether they have a Facebook account or not at facebook.com/ads/archive. We believe that increased transparency will lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time – not just for Facebook but for advertisers as well.
If you see an ad which you believe has political content and isn’t labeled, please report it by tapping the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the ad. We will review the ad, and if it falls under our political advertising policy, we’ll take it down and add it to the Ad Library. The advertiser will then be prevented from running ads related to politics until they complete our authorisation process and we’ll follow up to let you know what happened to the ad you reported.
You might already have seen some of our efforts to improve transparency: We introduced the Info and Ads section where you now have the ability to view active ads a Page is running across Facebook, even those not targeted to you. In the US and Brazil, we’ve introduced a range of tools including our Ad Library. We’re now rolling out these tools to the UK.
While we are pleased with the progress we have seen in the countries where we have rolled out the tools, we understand that they will not prevent abuse entirely. 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. Transparency helps everyone, including political watchdog groups and reporters, keep advertisers accountable for who they say they are and what they say to different groups.