CSOs Ask Facebook to Increase Transparency of Political Ads Ahead of Elections

On June 29, 47 Georgian civil society and media organizations, sent an open letter to Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and its Vice-President Nick Clegg, calling to take measures to prevent “anonymous, coordinated and sponsored political discrediting campaigns” in Georgia.

One of the requests is to launch “Political Ad Library and Political Ads API” – features that allow the readers to identify sponsored political content and trace its sources.

The signatories of the letter hope that “Facebook’s prompt action and genuine cooperation will make it possible to secure the Georgian democracy and integrity of important 2020 parliamentary elections from external and internal interference.”

According to the letter, “continued attempts of political interest groups and foreign actors to undermine free and equal election environment by using disinformation and Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) on Facebook,” jeopardizes democracy and Georgia’s western integration.

Noting that Facebook’s actions to take down the pages engaged in illicit coordination in 2019 and 2020 have “played an important role in increasing the integrity of the information space”. The letter says the effect of these measures was temporary, as the similar inauthentic pages “are still being created and use more sophisticated tactics in an attempt to avoid possible future sanctions from Facebook.”

The letter further notes that “as disinformation and sponsored discrediting campaigns are again gaining traction ahead of the upcoming elections in Georgia, lack of transparency of political advertising on Facebook allows malicious actors to bypass requirements of Georgia’s legislation on disclosure of political ad spending.”

“With only four months remaining until Georgia’s parliamentary elections, Facebook has a chance to take a responsible role in safeguarding the information environment during Georgia’s elections. Ensuring immediate introduction of Facebook’s mechanisms for transparency of political advertisement is a crucial step,” the signatories say.

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