What is Facebook doing for political ads ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections

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New Delhi | Updated: Dec 06, 2018 10:13 PM

Facebook has over 200 million users in India.

Facebook, 2019 Lok Sabha elections, political ads on facebook, latest news on facebook, online searchable ad libraryFacebook has over 200 million users in India. (Reuters)

In a bid to bring transparency in political advertisements in the run-up to 2019 general elections, Facebook Thursday made it compulsory for advertisers to disclose their identity and location before any such advertisement material can be run on the popular social media platform and Instagram. Beginning early next year, Facebook will also start showing a disclaimer on all political advertisements by providing details of those placing the advertisements. Also, an ‘online searchable ad library’ will be opened to provide information like budget associated with an individual advertisement and the range of impressions and demographics of who viewed the advertisement, Facebook said in a blog.

In the blog, Facebook said political advertisements will have to be run by an advertiser who has completed the identification authorisation process and labelled with the disclaimer. “By authorising advertisers and bringing more transparency to ads, we can better defend against foreign interference in India’s elections,” it said.

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Facebook, which has over 200 million users in India, said it was important that people know more about the advertisements they see, especially those that refer to political figures, political parties, elections, and legislation. “That’s why we’re making big changes to the way we manage these ads on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve rolled out these changes in the US, Brazil, and the UK, and next, we’re taking our first steps towards bringing transparency to ads related to politics in India,” it said.

“This is key as we work hard to prevent abuse on Facebook ahead of India’s general elections next year,” it said. According to Facebook, now anyone who wants to run an advertisement in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who placed the advertisement.

“The identity and location confirmation will take a few weeks so advertisers can start that process today by using their mobile phones or computer to submit proof of identity and location. This will help avoid delays when they run political ads next year,” it said. Early next year, Facebook will start to show a disclaimer on all political advertisements that provide more information about who is placing the advertisement and an online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access.

“This is a library of all ads related to politics from a particular advertiser as well as information like the budget associated with an individual ad, a range of impressions, as well as the demographics of who saw the ad,” it said. Further, Facebook will begin to enforce the policy that requires all advertisements related to politics be run by an advertiser who has completed the authorisations process and be labelled with the disclaimer. “We will not require eligible news publishers to get authorised, and we won’t include their ads in the Ad Library,” the blog said. Facebook owns photo-sharing platform Instagram.

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