Technology

Ahead of elections, Facebook rolls out political ad transparency tool

The newly launched tool is aimed at helping users identify about the people behind a particular political ad on Facebook.

India is all set to go for parliamentary polls this summer and ahead of the general elections, social media giant Facebook has rolled out a new tool aimed at bringing in more transparency to political ads.

The newly launched tool will help users know about the people behind a particular political ad on Facebook and how much money has been spent on the advertisement.

In order to bring transparency, the social media company has introduced the “Published by” or “Paid for by” disclaimers which the users will be able to see along with ads which are political in nature.

Authorized advertisers will have to either name themselves or any page they run or any other organization as the entity behind the advertisement as part of Facebook’s disclaimer.

In case the advertisers chose to name any other organization as the entity behind the ad, Facebook will ask them for additional information like phone number, email id, website or Media Certification, and Monitoring Committee Certificate from India’s Elections Commission.

In a report published by news agency IANS, according to Shivnath Thukral, Facebook’s Public Policy director for India, the move is aimed at making sure that the organization cited is authentic.

The social media giant had hinted at the move back in December when it had first announced its plans when advertisers were able to begin authorizations on mobile – verifying their identity and location to run political ads.

The new features will be enforced starting from February 21. However, these measures will remain voluntary for advertisers until then.

This is how the new feature will work. If a user chooses to click on the disclaimer, he or she will be directed to a searchable Ad library.

The Ad library will provide information about the ad’s creative, start and end date, and performance data, including the range of impressions, the range of spending.

It will also give information on who saw the ad, which age group do they belong to, what is their gender and where are they located across the country. According to Facebook, the disclaimer credentials will also appear in the Ad Library.

Meanwhile, a senior executive from Facebook’s popular messaging service WhatsApp has said that political parties in India have been abusing the messaging service ahead of the general elections and they have been warned by the company against doing so.

According to the official, there is mounting concern about the fact that party workers could abuse the platform by using automated tools for mass messaging, or spread false news to sway voters.

The messaging service has been married with controversy in India since last year after false messages were spread on its platform sparking a number of mob lynching.

The messaging service has tried to put an end to the spread of fake news through its platform by educating users with the help of road-show campaigns and radio, television as well as print advertising.

It has also limited the number of people someone can forward a message to at one time.

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