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Facebook to tighten rules for political ad spending ahead of US elections

Facebook said organisations that fail to submit the verification will see their ads "paused" by mid-October

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Facebook said Wednesday it would tighten its rules for political ad spending ahead of the 2020 US elections, notably by requiring more information about who is paying for campaign messages.

The move is the latest by Facebook to crack down on efforts to deceive or manipulate users after the social network admitted lapses in the 2016 election.

While Facebook has already begun requiring political advertisers to provide identification to confirm who they are and where they are located, the new policy requires more information to show they are registered with the US government.

This new verification can be done by submitting a tax identification number or proof that the group is registered with the Federal Election Commission.

"People should know who is trying to influence their vote and advertisers shouldn't be able to cover up who is paying for ads," a Facebook blog post said.

The new steps call for "strengthening the authorization process for US advertisers, showing people more information about each advertiser and updating our list of social issues" for advertisers.

Facebook said organisations that fail to submit the verification will see their ads "paused" by mid-October.

Smaller businesses or local politicians unable to meet the new requirements may still be able to place ads on Facebook by providing a verifiable phone number and mailing address or personal information, but the ads will not be tagged as being from a "confirmed organization."

Facebook said it planned to make improvements to its "ad library" to more easily track and compare spending of US presidential candidates.

It also said it would prohibit ads "that expressly discourage people in the US from voting," in response to recent civil rights audit.

Account holders for national candidates will be required to use two-factor authentication and verify their location "so that we can confirm these pages are using real accounts and are located in the US," Facebook said.