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Facebook to enforce its ad policy on advertising on social issues, elections and politics in Singapore

Facebook has announced that it will be enforcing its ad transparency tools in Singapore for advertising on social issues, elections and politics. The social issues covered include civil and social rights, immigration, crime, political values and governance. 

Under these norms, all advertising on these subjects will have to be authorised, carry ‘paid for by’ disclaimers and will be entered into Facebook’s ad library where they can be reviewed for up to seven years. 

The announcement was made via a blog post on Facebook business by its public policy director Katie Harbath.

Elaborating on the social issues that were covered, Harbath said: “It was decided based on external consultation and our internal research, which found that Singaporeans discuss, debate or advocate for or against these issues on Facebook.” 

Getting authorised will involve a potential advertiser having to confirm their identity, location and disclose who is responsible for the ad. Harbath said: “An advertiser can select themselves, a page they run or their organisation to appear in the ‘paid for by’ disclaimer. We require that the advertiser provide additional information, like a phone number, email and website, if they choose to use their organisation or page name in the disclaimer. These requirements hold advertisers accountable for the ads they run on Facebook and Instagram.”

She added: ““Authorisations may take a few weeks to complete so advertisers should start this process immediately to help avoid delays in running these types of ads.”

In addition, all authorised ads including their disclaimers, will be stored in Facebook’s ad library for seven years. The ads will include details on the range of impressions and spend, as well as demographic details on viewership. 

Habarth said: “We know we can’t protect elections on our own, which is why we offer access to the ad library API, which we built expressly for researchers, academics, journalists and the public to study political advertising. 

“With today’s news, the results on API queries in Singapore will now be more robust as advertisers are required to authorise and add disclaimers. 

“In addition, we will introduce the ad library report within the next few weeks, which provides people who aren’t as technical with similar information about ads related to social issues, elections or politics.”

Facebook’s moves come against the backdrop of it being named in the debate which resulted in Singapore’s recently instituted fake news laws. The laws proposed a fine upto $1 million for social networks that did not act swiftly to tackle fake news. A recent Netflix documentary, ‘The Great Hack’ also drew attention to voter manipulation using the social network.

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