After facing criticism over the lack of a proper verification system during the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has come up with a rather low-tech mechanism to check foreign meddling in future political campaigns.
Katie Harbath, Facebook's global director of policy programs, while attending the National Associations of Secretaries of State meet, announced that the company's new ad policy will use the service of US Mail to send postcards to sponsors of political ads on Facebook to verify whether they are the residents of the country.
The donors will receive a sealed cover with a code that they will be asked to furnish to complete the transaction online. This is applicable only to persons or companies sponsoring an ad for a candidate running for a federal, state or a local office in the US.
"It won't solve everything, but sending codes through old-fashioned mail was the most effective method the tech company could come up with to prevent Russians and other bad actors from purchasing ads while posing as someone else," Harbath told Reuters.
Facebook's new ad policy comes just days after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for meddling in the US presidential election.
Despite the well-laid-out US government policy on prohibition of donation and funding by foreign countries or nationals to candidates running federal or state or local office, Russian spy agencies were accused of faking the donors' identity and purchasing ads not just on Facebook but also on other popular social media platforms owned by Google and Twitter, among other technology companies.
In October 2017, Facebook's internal investigations revealed that around 3,000 Russia-sponsored ads were bought on Facebook and Instagram before and after the November 2016 election, which might have influenced close to 150 million citizens — almost half of the US population.
There are speculations that Russians used the ads to run false propaganda against on Donald Trump's opponents, including Hillary Clinton, which many believe led to a swing in former's favor in the US presidential election in November 2016. Trump vehemently denies the charges, calling them frivolous and baseless.
Last week, Trump even blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegedly turning a blind eye to the Florida school shooting suspect's disturbing antics on social media platforms and failing to save the lives of 17 children.
Instead, FBI was busy trying to find clues to prove "prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign," which never happened, Trump said on Twitter.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
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