Jessica Goodfellow
Sep 26, 2019

Facebook to begin enforcing strict controls over political ads in Singapore

The company said the tools are designed to reduce the spread of misinformation, help prevent foreign interference in elections and bring greater transparency and authenticity to advertising.

Facebook to begin enforcing strict controls over political ads in Singapore

In Singapore, Facebook is to begin proactively enforcing its policy on ads about social issues, elections and politics, which includes a requirement for advertisers to get authorised in advance and place ‘Paid for by’ disclaimers on their ads.

The ad transparency tools were first announced in June but will from today (26 September) be made a requirement in Singapore.

This means anyone who wants to run ads about social issues, elections or politics in Singapore must first confirm their identity and location, and disclose who’s responsible for the ad. An advertiser can select themselves, a page they run or their organisation to appear in the ‘Paid for by’ disclaimer. If they choose to use their organisation or page name, they will further be required to provide additional information, like a phone number, email and website.

“These requirements hold advertisers accountable for the ads they run on Facebook and Instagram,” said Facebook public policy director Katie Harbath in a blog post announcing the news.

The authorisation process is also required for advertisers wanting to run ads related to specific social issues, such as those about civil and social rights, immigration, crime, political values and governance. These four social issues were decided based on research which found that Singaporeans discuss, debate or advocate for or against these issues on Facebook, the platform said.

Furthermore, authorised advertisers will have their ads placed in the Ad Library for seven years, including their disclaimer information. The Ad Library API will be accessible to researchers, academics, journalists and the public to study political advertising. They will be able to see information about the ad, such as its range of impressions and spend, as well as demographic information about the people who saw the ad, such as age, gender and location.

The tools are designed to reduce the spread of misinformation, help prevent foreign interference in elections and—more recently—to bring greater transparency and authenticity to advertising, to enable “healthy discourse” in Singapore, Harbath said.

“Facebook has incredible potential to be a positive force for democracy around the world," she said. "It gives people a voice regardless of their age or political beliefs, and it encourages debate and the exchange of ideas."

“We will continue to refine and improve our policies and tools as part of our commitment to help protect the integrity of elections in Singapore and around the world.”

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