Facebook will collect Social Security numbers for political ads
Facebook announced last week that it will require the last four digits of a Social Security number, a US address, and a government-issued ID from anyone who wants to run a political advertisement.
After Facebook verifies the submitter’s information, Facebook will send a verification code, which the submitter can enter to upload their political ad.
This strategy stems primarily from a disruptive campaign by a Russian government-linked group that bought thousands of ads to sway users in the 2016 presidential election. According to Facebook, eleven million people saw the ads purchased by this troll group.
Although this policy change is overall beneficial to the American public, it is also somewhat cumbersome. For an ad to be considered “political” and go through this process, it must fall under one of twenty categories, including education, health, immigration, military, and terrorism.
Hence, this policy does not just apply to political candidate ads – although that is a major part of it. If a government official or political candidate is even mentioned in the advertisement, it must go through the many steps of this policy.
This will prove to be very tedious for firms who run ads in the Super Bowl, for example, who often convert those television ads to Facebook ads. Annually, the advertisements have become more and more progressive and socially applicable, which may make them fall under the same umbrella. This policy could potentially ignite a decline in this trend and force advertisers to choose less political topics for their ads.
Additionally, the news of the policy disgruntled news outlets. The News Media Alliance, a group who represents journals like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, asked to be exempt from the new policy. The group argued that reporting news about politics is much different than sharing a partisan opinion and pushing that agenda through ads. Facebook recognized this as a legitimate argument and stated that it will decide how best to move forward.
The social media platform stated that this policy will likely create 4,000 jobs – people who will review and verify political ads and applicants.
Facebook is under extreme scrutiny from the public right now after its Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and it is doing all it can to fix the problems it created. However, no matter what the popular social media platform does, it will still have critics and distrusters.
Featured image via Flickr/ThoroughlyReviewed