Facebook tightens rules on US political adverts ahead of presidential election

The social network is to ask for more information from advertisers in order to verify their identity.

Facebook is introducing new requirements for political advertisers in the United States ahead of next year’s presidential election.

The social network first introduced rules around political advertising last year, which required anyone buying ads of this nature to verify their identity, location and who is paying for them.

The firm said that from mid-September, it will require political advertisers to provide further information about their organisation, including phone number, business email and a matching business website, and proof they are registered with the US government – such as a tax-registered organisation number, government website domain or Federal Election Commission identification number.

It comes in response to reports of some advertisers using misleading information to disguise their identities.

The rules were introduced after the platform was scrutinised for its previous policies on advertising, with questions raised over the use of online ads around the last US presidential election and the EU referendum in the UK.

Facebook said that under the updated guidelines, advertisers who do not provide the additional information within a month of the rules taking effect will have their adverts paused.

The social network said: “While the authorisation process won’t be perfect, it will help us confirm the legitimacy of an organisation and provide people with more details about who’s behind the ads they are seeing.”

Facebook said it would also make it possible for smaller organisations and local politicians without government-issued credentials to buy adverts by submitting a phone number, address, business email and website which Facebook can verify.

Those advertisers who submit their information and have it verified by Facebook will be allowed to use their name in ad disclaimers and will receive a “Confirmed Organisation” tag on their adverts.

Facebook also announced it is updating the list of topics of advertising it considers to be political, consolidating 20 distinct subject areas to 10 categories.

The company said it made the change to a more “fluid” list to help make it easier for non-political advertisers to buy adverts without having to go through the political ads authorisation process.

Its statement added: “In the case of ads that discuss, debate or advocate for environmental issues, ads that merely encourage people to recycle or highlight sustainable products won’t require these additional steps in order to run.

“If an ad goes further, however, and advocates for or against things like legislation or a ballot initiative, the authorisation requirement will continue to apply. As noted, the categories are evolving, so even while we narrow the policy in some areas, we may expand it in others.”

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