Facebook is tightening its rules on US political adverts to combat potentially misleading campaigns ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
From mid-September, anyone buying ad space of this nature will have to provide a whole host of verification details, including a phone number, a business email and website, and proof they are registered with the government – such as a tax-registered organisation number or federal election commission identification number.
Political advertisers are currently only required to verify their identity, location and who is paying for them – and those restrictions were only introduced last year following concerns about misleading campaigns ahead of the presidential election and Brexit referendum of 2016.
Facebook said the updated guidelines mean 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.”
Smaller organisations and local politicians who do not have government-issued credentials will still be able to buy adverts by submitting a phone number, address, business email and website that 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.
All political adverts will be stored in a public online library for seven years, as they have been since last year.
Despite the extra measures, Facebook said it would continue to advocate for “sensible” regulation of social media sites by governments and watchdogs, adding: “We know we can’t tackle these challenges alone.”
Earlier this month it emerged that in the UK, Ofcom could be given the power to fine social media companies in a bid to protect youngsters from “harmful” content online.
The regulator does not currently have the ability to take action over material on websites like Facebook and YouTube, but the government is considering expanding its remit beyond more traditional media.
Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who joined Facebook last October, has previously welcomed calls for online platforms to be more closely regulated by governments.
Sky News has asked Facebook for comment on whether the new rules on political ads are to be introduced in the UK, where political parties have been flooding news feeds with highly charged campaigns.
The Conservative Party has been especially active since Boris Johnson became prime minister, running 280 Facebook adverts on his first full day to push his promise “to deliver Brexit by the 31 October”.