Facebook Rolls Out New Rules to Prepare for a Possible General Election

By Shabana Arif on at

Facebook is preparing to deal with a potential influx of nonsense ahead of a potential general election with new verification tools.

The new system, which rolls out next week, will require anyone wanting to run a political ad on the platform to provide ID and pass through a verification process. All ads will be stored in a searchable archive that can be accessed by anyone. Ads pertaining to "social issues such as immigration, health and the environment" also fall under the political umbrella.

Potential issues could arise from the onus being on the ad poster to categorise whether or not their content is political in nature, although Facebook says it uses a combination of automated processes and review by humans to make sure there's no silly buggers going on.

Facebook's vice president of policy solutions, Richard Allan, has assured users that in the event of a general election, "a dedicated operations centre" will be set up to take down any content found to be in breach of Facebook's rules.

The platform has a spotty record when it comes to political ads - along with Twitter and Google - and came under fire for not removing ads from President Trump's campaign about Joe Biden. A spokesperson explained that "ads that are in the politician’s voice or from their campaign direct speech and ineligible for review... There will be some instances where a politician’s content is impacted by the outcome of a fact check. Those are cases where they share an article or video back to their page (not in their voice) that was already debunked. In that case, we would demote it.”

Allen seems relatively confident that Facebook will have the general election in the bag, saying, "Images, videos and articles on Facebook which [Fact Check] assess to be untrue will now be more clearly labelled as false, and we'll continue pointing people to reports which debunk the myth. Our algorithm also heavily demotes this content so it's seen by fewer people and far less likely to go viral.

"While we can never say for sure that there won't be issues in future elections, we are confident that we're better prepared than ever." [BBC News]

Feature image credit: Unsplash