Technology Facebook Political Advertising

Facebook reviews UK political ad verification process weeks after launch following abuse


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

November 7, 2018 | 3 min read

Facebook is pushing back the implementation of a process that will require anyone buying political ads within its walls in the UK to verify their identity, following a series of stories about how open the system is open to abuse.


In the UK, Business Insider purchased anti-Brexit ads under the guise of Cambridge Analytica / Facebook

Last month Facebook revealed plans to prevent "bad actors" from using the platform by asking people buying a political ad to verify their age and location with Facebook. To get approved, it said buyers would need to submit a picture of a photo ID to Facebook (like a passport) and confirm their address by direct mail.

As first reported by the Guardian, the social network is now delaying the requirement past the original deadline of 7 November following on from a series of exposés which revealed flaws in the system.

In the UK, Business Insider purchased anti-Brexit ads under the guise of Cambridge Analytica, the defunct analytics firm that is banned from Facebook.

In the US, Vice bought ads using the name of every current US senator, vice-president Mike Pence and the Islamic State. In each instance, Facebook approved the ads and added them to its publicly searchable ad library (or ad archive in the US).

In a statement, Facebook said: "We have learnt that some people may try to game the disclaimer system by entering inaccurate details and have been working to improve our review process to detect and prevent this kind of abuse."

"Once we have strengthened our process for ensuring the accuracy of disclaimers, we will be introducing enforcement systems to identify political advertisers and require them to go through the authorisation process."

The Drum has reached out to Facebook for further information.

The social giant's reconsideration comes just one day after UK's information commissioner (ICO) acknowledged Facebook's updated political ad rules but urged the company to "take more responsibility" for the role it plays in democracy.

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