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Facebook plans to use postcards sent by US mail to authenticate political ads

Facebook plans to authenticate political ads on its platform via unique code dispatches by US mail.

  • Published: February 18, 2018 2:28 PM IST

Facebook was recently spotted testing Aadhaar integration for new users registering via mobile in India. The social media giant said it was an attempt to encourage new users to use the name as it appears on Aadhaar ID and won’t be made mandatory. It also confirmed that the screen was shown to very few users, and it does not plan to test it any further.

While Facebook did try to discourage creation of fake accounts on its platform, it has greater plans to curb such activity on its platform. For instance, the Mark Zuckerberg-led company plans to start using postcards sent by US mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase US election-related advertisements on its website. The move comes amidst growing scrutiny of the platform by US senators and ongoing Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Last year, Facebook revealed that some ads purchased on its platform during the 2016 Presidential election were by Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a troll farm that US security experts believe was successful in spreading misinformation in the country. “The process of using postcards containing a specific code will be required for advertising that mentions a specific candidate running for a federal office,” Reuters reports.

“If you run an ad mentioning a candidate, we are going to mail you a postcard and you will have to use that code to prove you are in the United States,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global director of policy programs, said.

Facebook’s announcement comes just a day after US Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies of conducting a criminal and espionage act using social media. The unsealed indictment says that Internet Research Agency managed to interfere in the election by boosting “Republican Donald Trump and denigrating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton”.

The indictment also added that those advertising on the platform pretended to be US citizens, and Facebook failed to find their original identity. With the new move, Facebook will be able to solve that issue since it now plans to identify those posting political ads. Harbath however told Reuters that “It won’t solve everything”.

Facebook has not confirmed when it plans to start using the postcards, but it could be used during the November mid-terms elections. Facebook has taken a lot of steps lately including tweaking its News Feed as investigators dig into the platform’s inability to curb the spread of misinformation.

  • Published Date: February 18, 2018 2:28 PM IST