Facing scrutiny over the presence of Russian ads on its platform during the 2016 US presidential poll, Facebook has agreed to support new limited federal rules on online political ads.
The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) has asked tech companies and campaigns to disclose the origin of political ads from now on. In its comments filed with the government, Facebook said it supports the FEC’s efforts, ReCode reported on Tuesday. However, the social media giant did not mention about issue-focused ads which Russian agents bought on its platform during the 2016 US election. Several Russian ads during the 2016 presidential election were issue-based ads, focusing around immigration, gun control and “Black Lives Matter”. Millions of Americans were exposed to those Facebook ads and posts between June 2015 and August 2017.
Facebook has also endorsed rules requiring greater transparency around candidate-focused ads that run in the weeks around Election Day. “Ad formats available on Facebook have expanded dramatically since that time. Ads can now include videos,…scrolling carousels of images, and even cover the entire screen of a mobile device,” Facebook said in its comments. According to a report in The Washington Post in October, Facebook was planning to tell lawmakers that 126 million of its users might have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives.
Facebook has also admitted that up to 270 million accounts on the platform are either fake or duplicate.
Around two-to-three per cent of its 2.1 billion monthly users in the third quarter of 2017 were “user-misclassified and undesirable accounts”, Facebook said, adding the number were up from the one per cent it had estimated in July.
Another 10 per cent of its accounts are duplicates of real users, suggesting that in total, up to 13 per cent of its 2.1 billion monthly users — almost 270 million accounts — are “illegitimate”.