Facebook will reportedly begin sending postcards to the addresses of potential political ad buyers to confirm that they reside in the U.S. following the controversy around Russian ad purchases.
Fox News reports that Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director, has revealed that the social media platform will be sending postcards to the addresses of political ad buyers in order to confirm that they live in the United States. This news was revealed at a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington shortly after Facebook’s VP of Advertising revealed that Russian actors purchased ads on the social media website primarily after President Trump’s election.
The recipient of one of Facebook’s postcards would find a unique code printed on the card which they would have to enter into Facebook’s website in order to continue purchasing an advertisement on the platform. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said that the new method will first be rolled out in relation to ads that name candidates ahead of November’s midterm elections. Facebook’s steps to further clamp down on security relating to their platform’s advertisements may be related to the recent indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian entities who were allegedly involved in efforts to sow discord within the United States using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to organise protests both for and against President Trump and generally divide Americans.
Of course, Facebook’s new postcard verification method could be worked around. A foreign operative could have someone with a U.S. mailing address receive the postcard for them for example, but spokesman Andy Stone stated that the new method was just “one piece of a much larger effort to address foreign electoral influence on our platform.” Stone further stated that through the use of machine learning, Facebook was able to remove “tens of thousands” of fake accounts ahead of elections in Britain, France, and Germany. Facebook also plans to double the number of people on their safety and security team to 20,000 people and will add 1,000 more people to review advertising content on the platform.