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Facebook launches new political ad transparency rules in the UK

Facebook has rolled out a new set of rules in the UK that enable users to see who has paid for political adverts displayed on the platform.

The rules came into force in the US and Brazil earlier this year but the rollout was postponed in the UK after Business Insider revealed the system could easily be tricked.

Earlier this month the news site revealed it had been able to pay for ads under the name of the controversial political consultancy Cambridge Analytica without Facebook flagging the payment as bogus.

In a statement shared with the BBC today, the social network said “enforcement on these ads will never be perfect, but we’ll continue to work on improving our systems and technology to prevent abuse”.

Under the new rules, buyers of political ads must be able to prove their identity and that they have a UK address using an independently verified ID.

The company’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, said in a blogpost that the checks may increase the amount of time it takes for advertisers to place adverts across the site. Facebook has also pledged to place all political ads in an “ad library” for seven years.

“If we learn of an ad that requires authorisation and is running without a “Paid for by” disclaimer, we’ll take it down and place it in the Ad Library,” Leathern wrote. “This helps shine a brighter light on political advertising and offers a resource for news organisations, regulators, watchdog groups and the public to hold advertisers more accountable.”

Some in the industry see the move as an attempt to preempt the development of new legislation that would ensure online advertisers play by the same rules as those operating through broadcast media.