Facebook under pressure from EU to better police political ads

Facebook under pressure from EU to better police political ads

Facebook is taking heat from the EU over its advertising rules concerning elections after finding itself in receipt of a sternly worded letter accusing it of ignoring the reality of EU law.

The rebuke comes as a particular blow to the letter’s addressee, newly installed vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg, who is a former EU official and MEP himself. Signed by the continent’s top civil servants, the blunt message contained within included a brief lesson on EU treaty law for Clegg to digest.

Pulling no punches, EU commissioner for justice Vera Jourova said that the EU wished to send a clear message to Facebook over the need to impart greater transparency around funding for political adverts.

Facebook has sought to allay fears of foreign meddling in elections by requiring political advertisers to first register in the country that is the target of their campaign. But the EU fears this could have unintended consequences for its own institutions, which could be prevented from using Facebook services such as Instagram and Messenger during the European Elections in May.

In the letter the EU voiced its fear that a national approach ignored these pan-European political structures and as such ‘would encroach upon fundamental EU rights and freedoms, such as free movement and political participation. In their current form, Facebook’s envisaged rules would therefore hinder the exercise of EU electoral rights.’

The EU-wide rules follow on from a similar rollout in the UK earlier this year, spearheaded by Clegg, who has made it his personal mission to clampdown on political misinformation.

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