KNAB is cautious if Facebook's new ad placement policy will really work



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Facebook's new rules will come into force so that the upcoming European Parliament (EP) elections will protect themselves from the influence of external forces and manipulation of voters. In the social network, funding for sponsored content and political advertisements will also be transparent.

This will allow, for example, the KNAB to control party campaign expenditures more accurately.

Facebook has now prevented Latvia from targeting foreign policy announcements, such as Russia, to reduce the impact of the Kremlin's trolls. Political content placards must be registered in Latvia and must be verified by a new Facebook procedure by uploading a photo with a passport or ID card and a residence document. In addition, everyone will be able to see who paid specifically for political advertising, how much money they spent and what the public got with political content.

At the PROVIDUS public policy center, it stands out that if all goes well, it will be an unprecedented opening. Facebook is an extremely important platform for Latvian voters. The Saeima elections showed that every second Latvian resident had noticed political information on Facebook. I assume, mainly, through advertising. The importance of Facebook is comparable and sometimes outweighs the impact of the largest media in Latvia on people's minds, so seeing who pays for the political ads to make sure the payers are not abroad and seeing which groups of voters are targeted is extremely important. "Says Iveta Kazoka, lead researcher at PROVIDUS.

Facebook invites political parties and campaigners to start registering their profiles as politicians. Anyone can see after a blue tick in the profile. Otherwise, any form of political propaganda will be blocked after mid-April.

KNAB, which monitors whether parties and party associations do not exceed the pre-election spending ceiling of € 430,221, welcomes the fact that they will be able to track advertising on Facebook, but KNAB is worried whether the innovations will really work without technical problems . That's why KNAB will still keep plan "B" for its own third-party ad tracking program.

"If we were to look for solutions and use party activity tracking programs on Facebook so far, we hope that's no longer necessary. From the beginning, we have to make sure that all of these new Facebook tools really work. The monitoring filters may not initially work. That's why we can compare other technical resources in KNAB to see if your results match those of Facebook for the party's election campaign spending. Once we make sure that this information is similar, we may refuse and not buy additional tools, "says Amab Raituma, head of the CPCB's partisan control division.

Meanwhile, Inga Spriņģe, founder of the research center "Re: Baltica", emphasizes that while Facebook tries to reduce manipulation before the EP elections, there are still outstanding issues. "What we saw before the previous Saeima elections in Latvia was that there were a lot of anonymous jokes that looked innocent, but there was actually a feeling that behind those pages of jokes are the supporters of a particular party."

It is welcome that Facebook is determined to actively monitor any politically sensitive content before the EP elections so as not to manipulate voters with deliberately misrepresented information.

"Facebook" says it's ready to block some specific and suspicious Facebook pages or accounts that are ready to remove any recordings. This is a novelty, as Facebook said earlier "no", under the pretext of freedom of speech, when everyone says what they want, but now that rhetoric has changed a lot, "adds Spriņgi.

Meanwhile, KNAB will also focus for the first time on so-called "influencers" or holders of social networking accounts with a very large number of followers, hence the potential to influence public opinion. Influenceri is in the category that can spread hidden political unrest.

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