New Facebook rules to protect integrity of European elections

Facebook is to introduce new rules designed to protect the integrity of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

These will include a requirement that advertisers provide proof that they live in the country where their ads will be targeting users of the social media network.

Facebook is also introducing a new tool called Ad Library to make it easier for people to find out about political or issue-based ads on the social network.

Richard Allan, vice president for Global Policy Solutions at Facebook, said: “We want to make sure that we capture the broad range of ads that are intended to influence the outcome of the election.

"This means including not only ads that advocate voting for particular candidates or parties but also issue ads, which don’t explicitly back one candidate or political party but which focus on highly politicized topics such as immigration.”

Facebook says it will start to block political or issue ads that have not been properly registered from mid-April.

Mr Allan acknowledged: “These changes will not prevent abuse entirely. We’re up against smart, creative and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse.

But we believe that they will help prevent future interference in elections on Facebook. And that is why they are so important.

The move was welcomed by James Lawless, Fianna Fáil spokesman on Science, Technology, Research and Development who has introduced a Bill on social media advertising: “Having met with officials from Facebook on various occasions I conveyed to them my concerns that social media could be manipulated by those with sinister motives.

"I would like to see the Government progress my Bill with greater urgency and ahead of the EU elections in May. While Facebook has now taken steps to protect the integrity of the electoral process across the EU, we must take responsibility in Ireland for our own system."

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