Facebook to tighten regulations around political advertising

9 Oct 2017

Facebook ad regulations will get tougher. Image: weedezign/Shutterstock

Targeted advertising rules on Facebook are about to get a lot more stringent.

The controversy over Facebook’s advertising policies has been brewing for several months now, with the social network coming under fire for what some people say is a lack of strategy when it comes to vetting suspicious content.

The company has been trying to implement some changes as the stark reality of advertisement-based audience manipulation has become clear.

The ad approval timeline may slow down

Axios reported that an email sent to Facebook advertisers said that ads targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” are now to be manually reviewed before they are set live.

This is an exacting standard, one that is higher than what’s required for most Facebook ads to get the all-clear. It’s expected that the new vetting process will cause approval of new ad campaigns to slow down.

The email read: “With this update, we’ll be requiring more ads to go through human review. New campaigns with ad sets [that] contain targeting options that we feel warrant additional review (such as those associated with topics such as politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues), we will route them for manual review prior to being approved.

“In these instances, advertisers are likely to experience a delay prior to the start of ad delivery, although we will look for ways to reduce any potential delays over time.”

A human review

Including this “human review” of advertising on Facebook is a clear step by the company to deal with the widespread problem of fake news and propaganda advertisements, not least the apparent involvement of the Russian internet agency in creating ads during the last US election.

Last week, Facebook announced it would be hiring an additional 1,000 ad reviewers to crack down on these issues.

Elliot Schrage, vice-president of policy and communications at Facebook, said: “The threats we’re confronting are bigger than any one company, or even any one industry. The kind of malicious interference we’re seeing requires everyone working together, across business, government and civil society, to share information and arrive at the best responses.”

Facebook mobile image via weedezign/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects