Canada gets Facebook ad transparency tool ahead of election

By Robert Scammell

Facebook has launched an ad transparency tool in Canada to tackle foreign political interference in the country’s upcoming federal election, taking place in October this year.

As of today, people or organisations wishing to place adverts about social issues, elections or politics in Canada must prove their identity and location to the social media giant.

Identify confirmation will require two-factor authentication: a valid form of Canadian government-issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license and a mailed verification code to ensure the person placing the ad resides in Canada.

Adverts will be kept for seven years in Facebook’s Ad Library, where anyone can search for details about an ad, such as how much was spent and how widely it was seen.

The Canadian Facebook ad transparency tool follows systems already in operation in the United States, United Kingdom and Brazil.

Facebook created these tools in response to controversy about ads it displayed during the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign and the UK’s EU referendum, which included thousands placed by Russian groups seeking to sow discord.

Facebook ad transparency tool will be C-76 compliant

The Facebook ad transparency tool has also been introduced to ensure compliance with Canada’s C-76 bill, which seeks to limit political spending and increase advertising transparency during elections.

“We take the protection of elections on Facebook very seriously, which is why we’ve devoted significant time and resources in support of C-76, and will continue to make investments that help protect the Canadian election from interference on our platforms,” said Kevin Chan, head of Public Policy at Facebook Canada.

“At Facebook, we are committed to bringing a new level of ad transparency to Canadians, so they know more about the ads they see across our platforms.

“We have done the hard work to build tools and policies that require advertisers to complete an authorisations process, including confirming their identity and location, before running ads about social issues, elections or politics. These ads will be publicly available in the Ad Library for 7 years.”

More than 24 million Canadians use Facebook.

Read more: Facebook political ads: Will new EU rules work?