Facebook to block foreign ads for Australia election

Facebook will block election advertising from outside Australia ahead of polls next month, in the wake of growing criticism of the social media giant’s role in the spread of disinformation.

The restrictions — already rolled out for polls in other countries such as Thailand and Indonesia — will come into force when the government announces the election date in the coming days.

“We’re temporarily not allowing electoral ads purchased from outside Australia ahead of the election in May,” Facebook’s Australia and New Zealand policy director Mia Garlick said in a statement.

“The restriction… will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities that are of an electoral nature, meaning they contain references to politicians, parties or election suppression.

“We also won’t allow foreign ads that include political slogans and party logos.”

Facebook said it has introduced restrictions on foreign electoral ads in countries including Nigeria, Ukraine, Thailand, Indonesia, and Ireland around its May 2018 referendum on abortion.

For the European Parliamentary elections, it requires advertisers to be authorised in their country to run ads related to the vote.

The world’s biggest social network first began looking into its influence on elections after revelations of Russian influence campaigns during the 2016 US election.

Critics have accused the US firm of being too slow to act.

AFP has a global fact-checking network that is dedicated to verifying and debunking disinformation spread online.

Some of this content is flagged on Facebook, as part of a contract between AFP and the social media company. AFP’s collaboration with Facebook has just been extended to Australia.


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