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Facebook to disclose details about political advertisers

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San Francisco, Oct 28: Facebook has vowed to make political ads more transparent, allowing users of the social network to know more about the advertisers which may include their identity and location.

The move comes ahead of the November 1 US Congressional hearings in which tech giants including Facebook will be questioned about Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

“We’re going to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run election-related ads,” Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads said in a statement on Friday.

“We are starting with federal elections in the US, and will progress from there to additional contests and elections in other countries and jurisdictions,” Goldman added.

As part of the documentation process, advertisers may be required to identify that they are running election-related advertising and verify both their entity and location.

Once verified, these advertisers will have to include a disclosure in their election-related ads, which reads: “Paid for by.”

“When you click on the disclosure, you will be able to see details about the advertiser. Like other ads on Facebook, you will also be able to see an explanation of why you saw that particular ad,” Goldman said.

“For political advertisers that do not proactively disclose themselves, we are building machine learning tools that will help us find them and require them to verify their identity,” Goldman added.

Facebook said it will also soon roll out a feature that would allow its users to visit any page on Facebook and see what ads that page is running.

“We will start this test in Canada and roll it out to the US by this summer, ahead of the US midterm elections in November, as well as broadly to all other countries around the same time,” Goldman said.

Reports earlier found that Russian-linked accounts used a number of tools including advertisements to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

In next week’s congressional hearings, Facebook, Google, and Twitter will be grilled about the roles their platforms played in Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the election.(IANS)

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Facebook News: Boon for Some, Ban for Many

Wait and watch as more details emerge about Facebook News

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

With Facebook announcing to bring top media houses onboard as it faces extreme scrutiny amid ongoing regulatory hearings over privacy violations, one thing is clear: struggling small and medium media outlets now face a strong rival, starting with the US.

The significant media handshake from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come after years of shaky relationship between the two.

Facebook never called itself a media organisation, despite experimenting with splashing news on its platform.

In 2015, the social networking platform launched Instant Articles, hosting news content inside its app.

“But heavy-handed rules restricting advertising, subscription signup boxes and recirculation modules led publishers to get little out of Instant Articles. By late 2017, many publishers had largely abandoned the feature,” reports TechCrunch.

The company also discontinued its Trending News section in June last year.

This time, Zuckerberg has played his cards well, by bringing 200 news outlets including the “alt-right” Breitbart News, despite its history of white nationalism and propagating racist conspiracies, under its umbrella.

What’s more, Facebook will reportedly pay as much as $3 million to licence headlines and previews of article from “major news outlets”.

This spells bad news for already bleeding small and medium publishers, not only in the US but in other countries including in India.

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Zuckerberg predicts 20 million to 30 million people could use the News tab in a few years.

The News tab will initially be available to about 200,000 people in some of the largest cities in the US. The company has Facebook hired a team of journalists to help curate major national stories.

Facebook and news organizations have had a strained relationship in the past “because both compete for ad dollars”.

Also Read: Tesla Unveils Third Version of its Solar-roof Product

Facebook and Google are pocketing more than 70 per cent of the digital ad spend globally, leaving scores of news organisations to vie for the rest.

Accoding to several media reports, Facebook News will have an uneven impact on news publishers a” with the largest ones benefiting the most.

Industry analyst Ken Doctor was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald that Facebook was risking backlash by choosing to pay some publishers but not others.

Will this media handshake also help Facebook control the scathing criticism coming from some of the top media outlets too, as regulators and governments go after the social media platform, including the break-up Facebook call?

Wait and watch as more details emerge about Facebook News. (IANS)