(The Canadian Press)

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

Facebook is launching a new advertisement library that will capture detailed information about political ads targeted at voters in Canada, including who pays for them and whom they target.

The move is part of the social-media giant’s response to changes the Trudeau government has made to Canada’s election laws aimed at stopping bad actors — foreign or domestic — from interfering with Canada’s upcoming federal election through advertising.

Bill C-76, which received royal assent in December, bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns.

It also requires online platforms, such as Facebook and Google, to create a registry of all digital advertisements placed by political parties or third parties during the pre-writ and writ periods and to ensure they remain visible to the public for two years.

Google recently said the demands of the new law are too onerous for its advertising system, which auctions ad space on the fly. It’s simply refusing to take political advertisements in Canada around the upcoming election.

Kevin Chan, head of public policy in Canada for Facebook, says the company is trying to exceed the standards the Canadian law sets.

“C-76 is, in fact, very important and consequential legislation. It actually regulates online platforms, including Facebook,” Chan said. “In order to comply we actually need to build new systems and new products to be able to do this, so right now we have our product-engineering teams working very, very hard between now and the end of June to ensure that we will be in compliance with what C-76 requires.”

Advertisements that refer to political figures, political parties, elections, legislation or issues of national importance will have to go through an authorization process. This will capture the information of the entity or group buying the ad and ensure the buyer is based in Canada.

Political ads that appear on Facebook during the pre-writ and writ periods will be labelled with a “paid for by” disclosure. People will be able to click the disclosure and see the ad library. This library will include information on the ad’s reach — who saw it, their gender and location, as well as a range of its impressions.

Information in the library will be viewable and searchable online for up to seven years, which exceeds the period required in the new election laws.

Another effort to exceed the legislative rules will see Facebook using its artificial-intelligence technologies and algorithms to detect ads or content that tries to circumvent the rules.

“We recognize that there’s going to probably be the potential for bad actors to try to work around the system — in other words, they may want to run a political ad and not seek to self-declare and not seek to be authorized,” Chan said. “That is obviously problematic for us because we recognize that the spirit of what Parliament intended and what we intend, in terms of what we’re trying to do, is provide the most transparency for political ads as possible.”

To help Facebook predict what issues might become key points of debate in the federal election, the company has amassed an group of policy advisers from a wide range of political backgrounds and expertise.

The group includes: former NDP MP Megan Leslie; former Stephen Harper aide Ray Novak, who is the managing director of Harper and Associates; Antonia Maioni, McGill University’s dean of arts; Ry Moran, executive director of the truth and reconciliation centre at the University of Manitoba; and David Zussman, a professor at the University of Victoria’s school of public administration.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lacombe mayor attends fall Mid-Sized Mayors’ Caucus

Caucus highlights fiscal responsibility

Lacombe Canadian Archery champion finishes 10th at worlds

Cameron Herbert has been a competitive archer for 10 years

Lacombe County: Do you have a gated property? Here’s what you need to know.

These gates are a deterrent for rural crime, they can also impede on emergency personnel

Lacombe Police Service joins North American rail-safety operation aimed at reducing preventable deaths and injuries on rail lines

Operation Clear Track aims to reduce the number of railway crossing and trespassing incident

WATCH: Enhanced Emergency Department opens at Lacombe Hospital

$3.1 million facility jointly funded by AHS, Lacombe Health Trust

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Judge finds Alberta couple not guilty in toddler son’s death

It was the second trial for the Stephans, who were found guilty by a jury in 2016

Alberta couple charged in toddler son’s death to learn fate from judge

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life

Alberta government pitching that small rural areas pay for policing: NDP

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population

Alberta inquiry into oil and gas foes could face legal challenge from Ecojustice

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has repeatedly accused U.S. charities of bankrolling efforts

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

‘Troubling, insulting’: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reacts to Trudeau’s brownface photo

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democrats, responded with a call for love after Trudeau photos surface

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

Most Read