Facebook Canada introduces Ad Library ahead of 2019 federal election

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Facebook Canada launched the Ad Library tool ahead of Canada’s federal election later this year in an effort to promote transparency.

“We take the protection of elections on Facebook very seriously, and we are committed to being a force for good in Canadian democracy.”

The social media giant said the tool will require advertisers to “confirm their identities before running political, election-related and issue ads,” and that includes those that refer to candidates.

The news was announced to be in line with the requirements of Bill C-76. The government House Bill C-76, which received Royal Assent on December 13th, 2018, provides rules and regulations on the use of social media during an election campaign.

“Understanding the importance of Bill C-76 and what’s potentially at stake, we’re doing the hard and rigorous work to get our political ads transparency tools right for Canadians. We are approaching our efforts with a Canadian lens in building the Ad Library and other processes, while simultaneously applying learnings from similar efforts around the world,” Keven Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada, said.

“We take the protection of elections on Facebook very seriously, and we are committed to being a force for good in Canadian democracy. This is why we devote significant time, energy and resources to these issues.”

Facebook has remained in the hot seat when it comes to meddling in elections campaigns, an issue that has affected many countries, including Canada. The Cambridge Analytica scandal involves the firm that helped US President Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election campaign by harvesting data from millions of Facebook users.

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In Canada, 60,000 people were affected by the scandal. More recently the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (ETHI) concluded its study on Cambridge Analytica and produced recommendations for how Facebook should be involved during elections as well as how the Privacy Commissioner’s office can deal with social media.

Facebook Canda says the Ad Library will store ads related to politics and will be “viewable and searchable by anyone globally for up to seven years.”

The library will also not only house electoral ads but also “issue ads – ads which don’t explicitly back one candidate or political party but that are major issues of national importance.”

Advertisers that want to run these types of ads, which reference political figures, political parties, elections, or issues of national importance, “will have to go through the ad authorization process and comply with all applicable laws.”

Facebook Canada also said it intends to work with the advisory group to get input on political advertising.

The group consists of Megan Leslie, CEO of WWF Canada and former deputy leader of the NDP, Antonia Maioni, dean of the faculty of arts at McGill University, Ry Moran, executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Centre at University of Manitoba, Ray Novak, managing director of Harper & Associates and chief of staff to former prime minister Stephen Harper and David Zussman, adjunct professor at University of Victoria.

This article was originally published on MobileSyrup.

Shruti Shekar

Shruti Shekar

Shruti Shekar is a video producer and reporter for MobileSyrup. She was formerly a video producer and reporter for IT World Canada and prior to that was a political reporter at The Hill Times based in Ottawa. She's had stints at the Lobby Monitor and the Wire Report. She loves reading, the Raptors, and all the alcohol.