D.C. News Brief: Updates to Facebook's Political Ads Archive System 

For the past several months, MPA has been pushing hard for Facebook to make changes to their political ads archiving system. As a result of our negotiations, we are pleased that Facebook announced that they will stop including news media in their political ads archiving system, reversing their policy of requiring media organizations to register ads promoting content deemed “political.” 

As part of the announcement, Facebook will be rolling out their political ad archive system in the UK, excluding “whitelisted” news media organizations from any requirements related to the political ad archive, including the intrusive requirement for employees to personally register to place ads.  At the same time, they said they will be modifying the US political ad archive system to also exclude whitelisted media organizations.  That process will take a few months to accomplish, but they plan to have the whitelist ready sometime in January.  We will keep MPA members posted as the revisions progress.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to Rita Cohen, MPA’s Senior Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy, at rcohen@magazine.org with any questions.

You can find the official announcement from Facebook below. 

Updates to our Ad Transparency and Authorisation Efforts
Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management at Facebook

This October in the UK, we introduced ad transparency and authorisation efforts to help prevent foreign interference in elections. Today, we'll begin enforcing the authorisation process for political advertisers in the UK, and we're also sharing updates on how ads from news organisations will be treated in our Ad Library.

Enforcement of Authorisation Starts in the UK 
UK enforcement starts today for advertisers that want to run political ads. Now political advertisers must confirm their identity and location, as well as say who paid for the ad, before they can be approved to run political ads on Facebook and/or Instagram. These additional checks may extend typical ad review times. Ads related to politics will be housed in an Ad Library for seven years. Advertisers will be prevented from running a political ad if they aren't authorised. If we learn of an ad that requires authorisation and is running without a “Paid for by” disclaimer, we'll take it down and place it in the Ad Library. This helps shine a brighter light on political advertising and offers a resource for news organisations, regulators, watchdog groups and the public to hold advertisers more accountable. We also welcome people to report any ad they believe is missing a disclaimer. Tap the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the ad, select “report,” and then “it refers to a political candidate or issue.” We will review the ad, and if it falls under our policy, we’ll take it down and add it to the Library.

Exempting News Ads from the Library
Since the launch of these new ad transparency and authorisation initiatives in the US in May, we've debated how best to treat ads mentioning political figures, elections or issues of national importance that come from news organisations. We created the authorisation process and launched new transparency initiatives to prevent foreign interference in elections. We included ads from news organisations in a separate section within the Ad Library because we had seen instances of foreign actors pretending to be news organisations. Our initial enforcement practices were intentionally broad.

We've since built more controls to help prevent politically motivated actors looking to use false news or sensationalism as weapons, and in September, we announced a news indexing process designed to more clearly and consistently identify Pages posting news on Facebook. In light of these developments, and in an effort to continually learn and improve, we'll utilize this new process to ensure that ads from news outlets no longer get archived as the index rolls out more broadly. We want to do all that we can to support journalism, and we know the inclusion of news ads has been problematic for a number of news organisations. We'll also continue working with publishers, platforms and fact-checkers to increase safeguards and transparency in this area, which should lead to greater accountability for both Facebook and our advertisers.

As enforcement begins today in the UK, we will not require eligible news publishers to get authorised, and we won't include their ads in the Ad Library. Since the news index isn't fully rolled out yet, we'll initially use UK member lists from a variety of established news industry groups to help inform which news organisations receive authorisation exemptions. Next year, we plan to begin using the news index process and additional criteria to determine which news publishers should be exempt from all of our country-wide Ad Libraries, including the US Ad Archive.

The Road Ahead

Enforcement on these ads will never be perfect, but we'll continue to work on improving our systems and technology to prevent abuse. Uncovering who ultimately paid for a political ad is a challenge that goes beyond Facebook, but we know that we must make it a lot harder for bad actors to deceive or interfere on our platform.

View the original post on Facebook here