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Facebook Considers Changes to its Political Ads Policy

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As you may have heard, Facebook’s decision not to subject political ads to fact-checking has caused a lot of concern, in various sectors.

With The Social Network rolling out a range of measures to stop potential misuse of its platforms by politically-affiliated groups in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential Election, its decision to allow lies in political ads in the coming campaign seems at odds with such efforts. Add to that the fact that every other digital platform – including Google, which this week announced its own political ad restrictions – now either doesn’t accept political ads or subjects them to fact-checking, and you can see why the pressure would be on the world’s largest digital platform to re-think its stance.

And now, according to The Wall Street Journal, it just might do that.

As per WSJ:

“Facebook is considering making changes to its political-advertising policy that could include preventing campaigns from targeting only very small groups of people, people familiar with the matter said, in an effort to spurn the spread of misinformation. The company in recent weeks has weighed increasing the minimum number of people who are targeted in political ads from 100 to a few thousand, the people said.”

That could an interesting move – micro-targeting, or focusing specific messages onto very small groups, was a key element of how Cambridge Analytica reportedly conducted its political advocacy campaigns across The Social Network. If it wasn’t able to hone in on such specific audience subsets, with messaging tailored to their key pain points, maybe this type of campaigning wouldn’t be as effective – and while expanding the minimum audience targeting from 100 to 1000 may not seem like a major shift, it could have a big impact.

This comes after Google outlined similar limitations on its targeting tools for political ads – earlier this week. Google announced that it will remove Customer Match targeting as an option for political promotions, which will remove the capacity for such campaigns to upload their own lists of emails and/or phone numbers and then have Google’s systems match them up with relevant online profiles.

Again, this may not seem like a major step, but its this kind of precise targeting that has proven significantly effective in campaigns from groups like Cambridge Analytica and the Russian IRA.

Of course, Facebook could still do more. Facebook could still subject political ads to fact-checks, it could add in new labeling to signify such, or it could, as Twitter has done, just stop selling political ads.

For its part, Facebook has said that it is considering all options, and that it’s still assessing its stance in light of ongoing discussion:

CNN reported earlier this month that:

“Facebook is considering changes to how political ads can be targeted, how ads are labeled, and providing more information about who is paying for an ad.”

So it seems like all options are still on the table. Well, all but banning political ads outright – but even if it doesn’t choose to stop them entirely, there are various ways in which it could improve its approach, and not only move in-line with other platforms, but also appease user and regulatory concerns. And the latter could end up being a bigger headache for Facebook in future if it doesn’t act.

This is especially true with other platforms refining their processes – if Facebook sticks with its stance, that will open the door for digital platforms to come under a new set of government-implemented standards, which will bring new penalties and limitations on how Facebook, and others, operate. That kind of accountability will also prompt increased discussion about how Facebook and other providers are run, and whether there should be rules governing their overall practices.

Facebook doesn’t want that, as it would be costly to implement and difficult to manage – and as such, it makes sense that Zuck and Co. would look to move more in line with everyone else.

There’s nothing official as yet, but expect to see Facebook’s political ads policy change within the next few months.

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Helping Prevent Discrimination in Ads that Offer Housing, Employment or Credit Opportunities.

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iscrimination has no place on Facebook, and our advertising policies have long prohibited unlawful discrimination. Over the last year, our auditors have released two progress updates on Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit and we reached a historic settlement with leading civil rights organizations. As part of the settlement, we introduced a new process for how advertisers based in the US, or trying to reach audiences in the US, can buy ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities. These ads are known as Special Ad Categories and are restricted from using the following targeting criteria: age, gender, ZIP code, multicultural affinity or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics.The Latest News from Facebook for Business

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Facebook Brings WhatsApp Integration to Its Revamped Crisis Response Tool

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Social network giant Facebook is adding a WhatsApp button to crisis response tool, its disaster-reporting and communications feature where a user requests or offers help during a time of emergency. The tool is being used in 300 crises in more than 80 countries presently.

The new feature will allow people in affected areas to provide real-time information related to any disaster, TechCrunch.com reported on Tuesday.

Formerly, replies to requests on Facebook’s crisis response pages could only be sent with Facebook Messenger.

The update allow the social network to provide this information to state and local officials, as well as federal relief agencies such as Direct Relief and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation.

Facebook is also expanding its Data for Good tools, using its data to provide relief organisations with information on where to distribute supplies, based on aggregated, anonymised data.

Additionally, Facebook is also updating its disaster maps to be more accurate in collaboration with agencies such as the International Displacement Monitoring Centre.

The new features will allow for photo and video sharing within the Crisis Response centre on Facebook.

Crisis Response originally developed out of a handful of features that help family, friends and communities support one another in the wake of a disaster.

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Facebook to Allow Transfer of Photos, Videos to Google, Other Rivals

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Facebook started testing a tool on Monday that lets users move their images more easily to other online services, as it faces pressure from regulators to loosen its grip on data. The social network’s new tool will allow people to transfer their photos and videos directly to competing platforms, starting with Google Photos. The company said it will first be available to people in Ireland and will be refined based on user feedback.

The tool will then be rolled out worldwide in the first half of 2020.

US and European regulators have been examining Facebook’s control of personal data such as images as they look into whether the tech giant’s dominance is stifling competition and limiting choice for consumers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reacted by calling for new rules to address “data portability” and other issues.

Facebook said that as it worked on a new set of data portability tools, it had discussions with policymakers, regulators, and academics in the UK, Germany, Brazil, and Singapore to learn about which data should be portable and how to protect privacy.

The company is developing products that “take into account the feedback we’ve received and will help drive data portability policies forward by giving people and experts a tool to assess,” Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy, said in a blog post.

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