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Facebook Tightens Political Advertising to Prevent Foreign Interference ahead of EU Election

However, some EU politicians criticized the social media giant, saying the measures will make pan-European online campaigning harder

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FILE - An illustration shows a 3-D-printed Facebook logo placed on broken glass above a printed EU flag. VOA

Facebook said Friday it is further tightening requirements for European Union political advertising, in its latest efforts to prevent foreign interference and increase transparency ahead of the bloc’s parliamentary elections.

However, some EU politicians criticized the social media giant, saying the measures will make pan-European online campaigning harder.

Under the new rules, people, parties and other groups buying political ads will have to confirm to Facebook that they are located in the same EU country as the Facebook users they are targeting.

That’s on top of a previously announced requirement for ad buyers to confirm their identities. It means advertisements aimed at voters across the EU’s 28 countries will have to register a person in each of those nations.

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Under the new rules, people, parties and other groups buying political ads will have to confirm to Facebook that they are located in the same EU country as the Facebook users they are targeting. Pixabay

“It’s a disgrace that Facebook doesn’t see Europe as an entity and appears not to care about the consequences of undermining European democracy,” Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the parliament’s liberal ALDE group, said on Twitter. “Limiting political campaigns to one country is totally the opposite of what we want.”

The response underscores the balancing act for Silicon Valley tech companies as they face pressure from EU authorities to do more to prevent their platforms being used by outside groups, including Russia, to meddle in the May elections. Hundreds of millions of people are set to vote for more than 700 EU parliamentary lawmakers.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said it will start blocking ads that don’t comply in mid-April.

The company will ask ad buyers to submit documents and use technical checks to verify their identity and location.

Facebook statement

“We recognize that some people can try and work around any system but we are confident this will be a real barrier for anyone thinking of using our ads to interfere in an election from outside of a country,” Richard Allen, Facebook’s vice president of global policy solutions, said in a blog post.

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Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said it will start blocking ads that don’t comply in mid-April. VOA

Facebook said earlier this year that EU political ads will carry “paid for by” disclaimers. Clicking the label will reveal more detailed information such as how much money was spent on the ad, how many people saw it, and their age, gender and location.

ALSO READ: Facebook Introduces New Tools to Protect EU Polls

The ad transparency rules have already been rolled out in the U.S., Britain, Brazil, India, Ukraine and Israel. Facebook will expand them globally by the end of June.

Twitter and Google have introduced similar political ad requirements.

Facebook is also making improvements to a database that stores ads for seven years, including widening access so that election regulators and watchdog groups can analyze political or issue ads. (VOA)

Next Story

Facebook Loses its Place in Glassdoor’s ‘Best Places to Work’ List

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Mired in several controversies amid break-up calls from the US lawmakers, Facebook has once again slipped off Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list for a second year in a row.

Facebook dropped to 23rd best place to work, falling 16 spots from last year’s position, and its award score fell from a 4.5 to 4.4 out of a perfect 5, according to the annual listing by the leading job website.

The top three spots are occupied by leading growth platform HubSpot, management consultancy firm Bain & Company and market leader in electronic signatures DocuSign, respectively.

Among the tech companies, Google is at 11th spot, LinkedIn at 12th, Microsoft at 21st, Salesforce at 34th, VMware at 36th, Adobe at 39th, Cisco at 77th, Accenture at 83th and Apple at 84th (the Cupertino-based iPhone maker slipped 13 spots from the last year’s list).

Amazon once again failed to enter the list of 100.

For Facebook, 2019 has been bad on the diplomatic front. Several US Senators have called for breaking up the social network amid repeated data breaches and privacy violations on the platform.

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Facebook has failed to comply with the subpoenas for more information related to the ongoing privacy investigation into its alleged privacy violations and Cambridge Analytica, the media has reported. Pixabay

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris has stressed that authorities should take a serious look at breaking up Facebook as the social network platform is a “utility that has gone unregulated”.

Another Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has also stressed upon the possibility of breaking up Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, rejected these calls, saying the size of the social media giant was actually a benefit to its users and the security of the democratic process.

Zuckerberg has promised his employees to “fight and win” if Democratic presidential hopeful Warren wins the 2020 election and moves forward with her stated plan to break up the big US tech firms.

Also Read: Here’s What India’s Privacy Bill Requires from Social Media Firms

The company in July agreed to pay record-breaking $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as fine for users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving millions of users.

The US FTC is also investigating Facebook for potential monopolistic practices.

The Top-100 list by Glassdoor is for large organisations or those with at least 1,000 employees. It bases its rankings on eight factors, including work/life balance, compensation and benefits and senior management, among others. (IANS)