Facebook will expand third party fact checking to Australia and temporarily ban electoral ads purchased from outside the country in an effort to prevent interference in the upcoming federal election.

The new rules, announced today by Facebook, bring Australia in-line with other major democracies where the social media giant has been tightening rules to curb the distribution of fake news or misinformation campaigns.

Earlier this year Facebook flagged it was reviewing its policies around electoral advertising, after the platform was criticised for not doing enough to stop Russian interference during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

“At Facebook, we’re focused on protecting elections and making sure people have a voice in the political process. Over the last few years, we’ve learned from elections around the world to create a robust approach to safeguarding elections on Facebook,” said Mia Garlick, Director of Policy Australia.

“Our approach is multi-faceted and includes finding and removing fake accounts, reducing misinformation, disrupting bad actors and increasing ads transparency.”

The restriction on electoral ads purchased from outside Australia will come into effect the day after the election is called and will apply to ads Facebook determines are coming from foreign entities that are of an electoral nature.

An ad is deemed electoral if it references politicians, parties, election suppression or includes political slogans and party logos.

Fact Checking

In Australia, Facebook will launch third-party fact-checking in partnership with international news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), to improve the accuracy of information on Facebook.

“The independent fact-checkers we work with are certified through a non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). Today, we have 43 partners fact-checking content in 24 languages globally, and we’re investing in ways to scale these efforts further,” Garlick said.

If a story is rated as false, Facebook lowers its position on the News Feed, sayign that reduces its future views by more than 80 per cent on average.

Ad Library

The changes also have an impact for marketers more broadly. Facebook has updated its Ad Library, an online archive which shows all active ads any Page is running, along with more Page information such as creation date, name changes, Page merges, and primary country location of people who manage Pages with large audiences.

This info was previously visible in the “info & ads” tab on a page, but is now available to everyone through the Ad Library, including people who aren’t on Facebook.

“Shining a brighter light on advertising and Pages makes both Facebook and advertisers more accountable, which is good for people and good for democracy,” Garlick said.

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