Facebook tightens political ad rules in Europe to stop interference in upcoming elections

Key Points
  • Facebook is expanding on measures it put in place in countries including the U.K., U.S. and India.
  • Political advertisers will need to undergo checks and ads will be labeled with disclosures on who paid for them.
  • It's also introducing Ads Library, a tool that lets users finds information about an ad stored on a public database.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives at the European Parliament on May 22, 2018.
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook implemented restrictions on its political advertising rules in the European Union Friday, in an effort to prevent abuse and interference in the run up to EU Parliament elections in May.

The company said in a blog post that it would expand on measures it put in place last year in countries including the U.K., U.S. and India. These measures mean political advertisers need to undergo checks to prove they live in the country they're targeting.

Ads will also be labeled with disclosures identifying who paid for them and their contact details too, provided they're a business and not an individual. Ads that haven't been registered by mid-April will be blocked.

A new feature the company is introducing is called Ads Library, an improvement on its archive tool, that lets users search political ads on a public database to find information on the number of times an ad was viewed and demographic data about who saw it. The ads are to be stored on Facebook's library for seven years.

"These changes will not prevent abuse entirely," Richard Allan, Facebook's vice president of global policy solutions, said. "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," he added.

The social media giant has been the subject of much scrutiny over how it handled attempts by Russia-backed trolls to masquerade as political advertisers to sway public opinion during votes like 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Voters in the bloc will go to the polls on May 23.