In an effort to prevent interference in upcoming elections, Facebook today announced that it will now require anyone wishing to run political ads on the platform to be verified.
Advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location in order to get a blue verification badge. Those who do not obtain verification will be “prohibited from running political or issue ads,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post.
Facebook also plans to start labeling political ads, and requiring advertisers to show users how they were funded.
These new rules will first take effect in the US before reaching the rest of the world in the coming months.
On top of that, Facebook will require the admins of all “large pages” to be verified. Zuckerberg said this measure will “make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way.”
Facebook plans to hire “thousands” of additional workers to handle all these new verifications.
The social network has also created a tool that will let you see all the ads a certain page is running, and is working on a searchable archive of past political ads. Facebook is currently testing the latter tool in Canada and plans to launch it globally this summer.
“With important elections coming up in the US, Mexico, Brazil, India, Pakistan and more countries in the next year, one of my top priorities for 2018 is making sure we support positive discourse and prevent interference in these elections,” Zuckerberg wrote. “These steps by themselves won’t stop all people trying to game the system. But they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads.”
US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been leading the government’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election, last month indicted 13 Russian nationals for meddling. The charges claim the Russian nationals began their activities as early as 2014, with the intent of sowing discord in the US political system. To do so, the suspects used social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as a way to spread propaganda to US voters.