Facebook to set ‘strict’ criteria for Georgian political ads ahead of upcoming elections

Last year Facebook removed dozens of fake Georgian pages.

Agenda.ge, 16 Jul 2020 - 11:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

Facebook has plans to set strict criteria for political ads to ensure transparency in advertisements in the run-up to the October parliamentary elections in Georgia, a representative of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) Mikheil Benidze says based on a letter received from Facebook. 

Benidze says that Facebook has responded to the appeal of Georgian NGOs on the launch of the Political Ad Library and Political Ads API in Georgia, like it did ahead of elections in Ukraine and European Parliament elections in the EU member states in 2019.

In line with Georgian legislation, the identity of advertisers/payers, contact information, amount spent on each ad, currency used, the time period of an ad should be disclosed along with geographic and demographic reach of the ads,” the NGOs said in its open letter to Facebook on June 29. 

Benidze says that Facebook has met ‘major requests’ of the NGOs. 

The most important is that our main request to launch the Political Ad Library will be fulfilled and starting in August political ads will have to adhere to strict criteria,” said Benidze, adding that in the following weeks Facebook will share information regarding the criteria. 

Benidze says that the transparency of political ads will make it possible for social media users to identify the provenance of ads. 

In June, the NGOs mentioned in their letter ‘continued attempts of political interest groups and foreign actors to undermine the free and equal election environment’ by using disinformation and Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) on Facebook, jeopardising democracy and Georgia’s western integration. 

During the election period, Facebook should strengthen its efforts to identify CIB and remove from the platform accounts involved in it. Following the identification of CIB and removal of networks, Facebook should notify subscribers and followers of accounts that were removed for CIB about the action taken,” said the letter. 

The 2020 parliamentary elections in Georgia will be held in a different manner, per the recently adopted constitutional amendments.