Face­book pushes ad over­haul be­fore 2018 US polls

Mint ST - - CORPORATE - BY DAVID INGRAM feed­back@livemint.com SAN JOSE, CAL­I­FOR­NIA

Face­book Inc. has be­gun over­haul­ing how it han­dles po­lit­i­cal ads on its plat­form and may put some changes in place be­fore US elec­tions next year, Face­book’s chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer said on Wed­nes­day.

US con­gres­sional and state elec­tions set for Novem­ber 2018 present a dead­line of sorts for Face­book and other so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies to get bet­ter at halt­ing the kind of elec­tion med­dling that the US ac­cuses Rus­sia of.

“We are work­ing on all of this stuff ac­tively now, so there is a big fo­cus in the com­pany to im­prove all of this on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Face­book CTO Mike Schroepfer said in an in­ter­view.

“You’re go­ing to see a reg­u­lar ca­dence of up­dates and changes,” he said, speak­ing on the side­lines of a con­fer­ence that the firm is host­ing on vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Zucker­berg said last month that the com­pany would be­gin treat­ing po­lit­i­cal ads dif­fer­ently from other ads, in­clud­ing by mak­ing it pos­si­ble for any­one to see po­lit­i­cal ads, no mat­ter whom they tar­get. US law­mak­ers had be­gun call­ing for reg­u­la­tions.

Dis­clo­sures by Face­book, Twit­ter Inc. and Al­pha­bet Inc.’s Google that their prod­ucts were bat­tle­grounds for Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling last year have turned into a cri­sis for Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Face­book’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, Sh­eryl Sand­berg, is in Wash­ing­ton this week meet­ing US law­mak­ers.

Moscow has de­nied al­le­ga­tions of med­dling in last year’s US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Im­ple­ment­ing changes is tricky, Schroepfer said, be­cause Face­book does not want to sti­fle le­git­i­mate speech and be­cause of the vol­ume of ma­te­rial on Face­book, the world’s largest so­cial net­work with 2 bil­lion users and 5 mil­lion ad­ver­tis­ers. REUTERS

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