Journalism of Courage

Facebook to toughen advertising rules for Nigeria ahead of general elections

Facebook will extend some of its political advertising rules and tools for curbing election interference to India, Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union before significant votes in the next few months.

Beginning on Wednesday in Nigeria, only advertisers located in the country will be able to run electoral ads, mirroring a policy unveiled during an Irish referendum last May, Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of global politics and outreach, said in an interview with Reuters.

As the largest social media service in nearly every big country, Facebook has become a means for politicians and their adversaries to distribute fake news and other propaganda.

Buying Facebook ads can widen the audience for such material, but some of those influence efforts may violate election rules and the company’s policies.

The same policy will take effect in Ukraine in February. Nigeria holds a presidential election on February 16, while Ukraine will follow on March 31.

In India, which votes for parliament this spring, Facebook will place electoral ads in a searchable online library starting from next month, Rob Leathern, a director of product management at the company, told the news organisation.

“We’re learning from every country,” Mr Leathern said. “We know we’re not going to be perfect, but our goal is continuing, ongoing improvement.”

Facebook believes that holding the ads in a library for seven years is a key part of fighting interference, he added.

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