Bloomberg’s news report said that Facebook has announced changes to its advertising policies ahead of Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing before the US Congress next week.
According to the new changes in the social media giant’s ad policy, it will be harder for rogue agents to create fake accounts and push divisive opinions. Advertisers who are espousing political or social causes will need to identify themselves and their locations now. This way, it becomes harder for them to spread poison through Facebook’s platform.
Facebook said that is hiring more people to enforce the new advertising policy prior to the US mid-term elections slated for this year. Additionally, managers of popular Facebook pages would need to identify themselves and have their identities verified.
This is one of the issues that had Facebook in trouble – the fact that people were using the social media platform to spread hatred and misinformation to influence the 2016 US presidential elections.
This announcement is one of many steps that Facebook has taken to rectify its mistakes in not protecting its customers’ privacy and data, and, at the same time, pacify users, lawmakers as well as advertisers. To this end, the company has also shut down a feature on its platform that put the personal information of almost all of its 2 billion users at risk. The company also conceded that the data stolen by Cambridge Analytica could possibly impact 87 million users, rather than just the 50 million originally thought.
Facebook’s share price plunged and the company lost about $100 billion in market value in the last few weeks due to the onslaught of public anger against a flagrant abuse of trust. However, since Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg have been taking steps to address all the allegations against them, the social media company’s shares have recovered somewhat. The company’s shares are now down only 11%.
Facebook has also announced that it has suspended Canadian political consultancy AggregateIQ from its social media platform after the company received reports that this firm may have had improper access to users’ personal data.
The company issued a statement, saying that AggregateIQ could be affiliated to SCL, as a result of which the firm could have received data about Facebook users in an incorrect manner. SCL – Strategic Communication Laboratories – is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica and is a government and military contractor.
The company continued, saying that their internal review of all their advertisers and users continued and that Facebook would cooperate completely with the regulatory authorities.
The social media giant is currently facing probes and investigations from multiple sides – the US government, the Canadian government as well as governments in Europe.
In the US specifically, the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing whether Facebook had broken a 2011 consent agreement to protect users’ data. If proved true, it could result in hundreds of millions – maybe billions of dollars’ worth of fines for the company.
Additionally, the US Congress is assessing how the Russians used the social media platform to affect the outcome of the 2016 elections.
While most lawmakers have lauded what Facebook is doing, not everyone is convinced that these steps are enough.
According to a Massachusetts Democratic Senator, Ed Markey, these measures are not robust enough. He feels that the country needs strong privacy laws on the books which will give all Americans control over their sensitive information.
Jeff Chester, executive director at Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocate, said the proposals made by Facebook were not enough. The firm stated that Facebook should not utilize users’ political and data information to target them with election related advertising.