Facebook users in the U.S. can no longer place ads on the social media platform unless they agree to its latest imposed condition: for them to turn over their social security number.
Facebook will now require anyone who wants to run ads related to political campaigns, civil rights, immigration, guns, economy and other issues, to establish that they are in the U.S. And part of such proof needed is one’s Social Security number.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Looking to buy a political ad on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Facebook?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Facebook</a>? You'll now have to prove your ties to the United States <a href="https://t.co/mLQmHEnKHl">https://t.co/mLQmHEnKHl</a> <a href="https://t.co/KCogG1NFRH">pic.twitter.com/KCogG1NFRH</a></p>— KRON4 News (@kron4news) <a href="https://twitter.com/kron4news/status/999088773345361920?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 23, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Aside from the Social Security number, people who wish to buy ads on the platform will also have to provide a picture of a government-issued ID and a U.S. mailing address. Then Facebook will verify the information submitted, and once okay, the company will then mail a code to the provided address to authorize the person’s Facebook account to buy ads.
However, Facebook refused to disclose how they intend to verify Social Security numbers and other personal details. Facebook said the company will delete the information the user wanting to buy ads gave after verification, and may normally take six weeks.
The new policies do not only apply to ads advocating for or against a political candidate but also all other ads mentioning a candidate.
Facebook released last month a list of 20 “issues” that apply to the new approval process including abortion, education, guns, health, immigration, military and terrorism.
Facebook’s latest move is still seen as part of its initiatives supposedly to increase transparency on the popular platform after allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election through government-linked troll group which is being accused of spending thousands of rubles on Facebook ads targeting Americans before and leading towards the 2016 presidential election.
Some news publishers which promote their articles via Facebook ads are not exactly in full agreement of the new policies. The New Media Alliance, a trade group that represents various publishers including the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times wrote to Facebook last Friday requesting that they bare exempted from the said rules.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">"You are forcing publishers to make a choice between labeling that is fundamentally counter to who we are and what we do, or to walk back our presence on a dominant platform for news consumption and discovery." <a href="https://t.co/ExFMLqh5uC">https://t.co/ExFMLqh5uC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OttoSocialClub?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OttoSocialClub</a></p>— Andrea Washington (@DreaTheCreative) <a href="https://twitter.com/DreaTheCreative/status/998704017466384385?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 21, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Facebook said it is planning to hire up to 4,000 more people to review and verify political ads. Their tasks and functions will most likely also include deciding what is and what isn’t political.
A former Facebook product manager already warns that new set-up is bound to be met by a lot of complaints.