With so many pitfalls in Facebook’s attempts to try and cease political ads being bought by foreign governments, two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner have shown immense disappointment and called upon Facebook to fix the issue on Friday.
The Senators’ letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg clearly stated about the loopholes in the media giant’s efforts enabling adversaries to exploit the platform with ongoing disinformation attempts.
In order to buy political and issue- based ads on Facebook’s platform, Zuckerberg had announced in April about a mandatory verification. The buyers will need to supply a residential mailing address, scanned US passport or driver’s license; the last 4 digits of his or her Social Security number and the political ads will need to list the sponsors of the advertisement in question.
The New York Times stated the apparent flaw in the verification process where authorized political ad buyers can list any reference under the field of ‘paid for by’. As a consequence, a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia was attacked by an anonymous buyer of ads against them.
According to the senators, Facebook is unable to use human reviewers to check political ads and it is unacceptable that the new security tool enables users to deliberately misidentify who placed political ads.
PCMag was told by Facebook that they are working on the aforesaid loopholes as they are violating the company’s policies. Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern gave a statement informing that additional checks to aid in prevention of abuse are being worked on. Furthermore, he confirmed that as and when the need arises, they will respond to requests from law enforcement and election officials presently and in the future.
Currently, Facebook affects an archive enlisting all the political ads served on Facebook along with details including a breakdown of the top ad buyers, money spent and which ads were placed. However, with the buyer having the option of choosing whether or not they want to publicly disclose their identity is worthy of concern.
It is important to note that checking the IDs of political ad buyers might not suffice. Earlier this year, 13 Russian nationals were discovered who stole identities of several US citizens and interfered with 2016 US elections by influencing voters.