Facebook announces measures to prevent Federal election disruption

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Given the potential for election disruption, Facebook is putting in place a series of measures to prevent its platform being used to disrupt the next federal election and to conform with changes to Canada’s election law.

The company is currently building an archive of Canadian political advertising that will allow members of the public to view ads that are being placed by candidates, political parties and by groups wading in on issues being debated during the campaign. It will include copies of ads, how much was spent and general demographic data about who the ad reached such as average ages, gender and location.

Changes to Canada’s elections law contained in Bill C-76 require companies that sell online ads to set up a registry of political ads. Companies are also prohibited from accepting election ads from outside Canada.

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However, Facebook is stopping short of including the microtargeting information for ads, such as the kinds of people the advertiser is trying to reach. Advertisers can ask Facebook to microtarget ads at people in various ways such as people who fit a certain profile, who like particular things or who live in a particular area.

Facebook’s decision to introduce a series of measures to comply with changes to Canada’s election law is in sharp contrast with Google’s response to the changes in Canada’s election laws. Google said it won’t accept any political advertising during the election campaign because it would be too difficult to comply with the law.

To help determine which political issues should be included in Facebook’s political ad reporting system, the company has recruited five advisers: former NDP MP Megan Leslie; Antonia Maioni who is dean of arts at McGill University; David Zussman a former top public servant who is now an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria; Ry Moran, executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Centre at the University of Manitoba and Ray Novak, who served as chief of staff to former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and still works with him through Harper & Associates.

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Globally Facebook has increased its security team to 30,000 from 10,000 and is using artificial intelligence to try to detect fake accounts. -CINEWS

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