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Facebook taking bias countermeasures for planned Iraqi election

Facebook is introducing tools and policies that aim to provide increased transparency and controls on electoral and political ads in Iraq ahead of parliamentary elections on Oct. 10.

The move is part of the company’s “ongoing commitment to raise the bar for transparency and accountability on our platform, and to help prevent foreign interference in elections,” Tara Fischbach, Facebook’s public policy manager for the Levant, told Arab News.

Facebook has been accused of spreading misinformation, which is especially dangerous during elections.

Advertising on the platform has influenced political events in the past, most notably the 2016 US election and the Brexit referendum.

In 2019, misinformation on the platform was rampant in the lead-up to elections in Tunisia, where nearly 60 percent of the population uses Facebook.

Now Facebook is implementing a new set of measures in Iraq. Starting Aug. 25, anyone running ads on Facebook or Instagram about political figures, parties, any election or “get out the vote” campaigns in Iraq will have to go through an ad-authorization process to prove who they are by verifying their identity using a government-issued photo ID.

Additionally, ads about elections and politics will only be permitted from advertisers who are authorized as being located in the country.

Advertisers will also be required to label ads about elections and politics in Iraq with a “paid for by” disclaimer so anyone can see the individual or organization responsible.

Ads about elections and politics in Iraq will be archived in Facebook’s Ad Library. Users will be able to search and view ads and campaign details, such as how much was spent and a breakdown of the reach and demographic. The archive will be saved for seven years.

Users will have more control over political ads on their Facebook and Instagram feeds. They can choose to see fewer electoral and political ads with disclaimers on their feeds or turn them off entirely.

There are countries where the ad-transparency tools are not available due to “concerns relating to real-world safety and harm,” Fischbach said.

“Iraq is the first country where we’re launching a modified version of the solution that takes into account these concerns,” she added.

“Authorization requirements won’t change, but we won’t display phone, email, website and business address in our transparency surface.”

Based on the learnings from the Iraq rollout, Facebook might make the modified feature available in “other countries that face similar challenges,” said Fischbach.

Source: Arab News

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