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Facebook electoral ads in India to be placed in searchable library from next month

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After kicking off verifying process for political advertising last month, social media giant Facebook is extending its political ads rules to curb election interference in India.

Social media firm will place electoral ads in a searchable online library from next month. The Indian archive will contain contact information for buyers and official regulatory certificates. Individuals will have to furnish government issued documents such as voter ID card for buying political ads.

The company believes that the process will be a key part of fighting interference, Rob Leathern, a director of product management at the company told Reuters.

India has its Lok Sabha election due in April and May this year.

Since 2016, the social networking site has emerged as a platform for political parties to run their views and propaganda to manipulate voter base present there. Facebook also came under huge criticism.

In early 2018, Facebook faced heavy scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytics (CA) scandal. It was alleged to have collected over 87 million users worldwide at the behest of Facebook and has been accused in cases of influencing elections in other countries as well.

Following the episode, Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post reaffirmed that he will take a step to curb the practice.

“In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face. But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services,” he wrote.

Facebook also undertook a couple of measures to combat fake news menace. It hired BBC senior digital strategist Trushar Barot and partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative, to curb the spread of fake news.

Last month, Facebook had begun verifying ads and plans to show a disclaimer on all political ads that provide more information about who’s placing the ad.

It also asked advertisers to start the process and submit proof of identity and locations to avoid delay. By authorising advertisers and bringing more transparency to ads, Facebook aims to defend against foreign interference in India’s electoral process.

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