Facebook Cracks Down On U.S. Political Advertisers Ahead of 2020 Election

Facebook is questioning more information about organizations seeking to run political advertisements from mid-September until the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, the company said in a blog post Wednesday.

Advertisers running political ads or social issue ads will be required to provide a tax-registered organization identification number. Those who do will be given a “confirmed organization” label to signify their legitimacy.

Facebook previously required a U.S. street address, phone number, business email and business website matching the email. Now, the company will also require one of the following: a tax-registered organization identification number (i.e. EIN), government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil, or Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number.

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Facebook started requiring political advertisements to disclose who paid for them in May 2018. The “Paid For By” disclosure at the top of the ad was meant to tell users who paid for each ad showing up in their news feeds. But a Vice News report found that the feature was easily manipulated and allowed advertisers to falsely identify the person or organization financing endorsements and information campaigns.

Social media ads — particularly those run on Facebook — have become an essential tool in political campaigns in the last two U.S. presidential elections. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent a collective $81 millionon Facebook ads during the 2016 presidential election. Russian operatives spent about $135,000 on Facebook ads between October 2013 and January 2019, according to the social media giant. The Justice Department says Russian operatives spent $1.25 million per month on digital media ad campaigns.

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