Facebook will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election. FB will verify the identity of people running popular pages, as part of its continued efforts to stem fake news and propaganda. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said all “large” pages would be audited - any which did not clear the process would be prevented from posting.
The move is designed to prevent users who run pages using fake accounts from hiding their true identity. The firm will ask those placing political ads for a US government-issued ID and a physical mailing address. A unique code will be sent to the address - and will need to be inputted before the advertising is allowed to run.
The measures are to counter some of the tactics apparently used by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian “troll farm” said to have manipulated Facebook in order to target American voters.
Ahead of congressional testimony by its CEO on user privacy, Facebook rolled out a plan for demanding more disclosure from advertisers “pushing viewpoints on social issues,” Bloomberg says. As with candidate ads, these would need to disclose their identity and location — as would managers of popular pages on the platform, the company said. The changes, and the personnel needed to implement them, would be in place before the midterms, it said.
Zuckerberg has agreed to answer questions on Capitol Hill next week about his company's data controls in the wake of its disclosure that the profiles of as many as 90 million users were improperly accessed by political consultants to President Trump’s campaign. Other reports of inadequate controls at the company are surfacing. CEO Sheryl Sandberg told NPR Thursday she didn't know if companies beside the consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, had accessed member data; CNBC reported that Facebook had sought patient information from hospitals. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, which is already investigating Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, that the company violates members' privacy when using their photos without permission for facial-recognition purposes.