(The Canadian Press)

Facebook announces changes to political advertising to meet new federal rules

Bill C-76 bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns

Facebook is launching a new advertisement library that will capture detailed information about political ads targeted at voters in Canada, including who pays for them and whom they target.

The move is part of the social-media giant’s response to changes the Trudeau government has made to Canada’s election laws aimed at stopping bad actors — foreign or domestic — from interfering with Canada’s upcoming federal election through advertising.

Bill C-76, which received royal assent in December, bans the use of money from foreign entities to conduct partisan campaigns.

It also requires online platforms, such as Facebook and Google, to create a registry of all digital advertisements placed by political parties or third parties during the pre-writ and writ periods and to ensure they remain visible to the public for two years.

Google recently said the demands of the new law are too onerous for its advertising system, which auctions ad space on the fly. It’s simply refusing to take political advertisements in Canada around the upcoming election.

Kevin Chan, head of public policy in Canada for Facebook, says the company is trying to exceed the standards the Canadian law sets.

“C-76 is, in fact, very important and consequential legislation. It actually regulates online platforms, including Facebook,” Chan said. “In order to comply we actually need to build new systems and new products to be able to do this, so right now we have our product-engineering teams working very, very hard between now and the end of June to ensure that we will be in compliance with what C-76 requires.”

Advertisements that refer to political figures, political parties, elections, legislation or issues of national importance will have to go through an authorization process. This will capture the information of the entity or group buying the ad and ensure the buyer is based in Canada.

Political ads that appear on Facebook during the pre-writ and writ periods will be labelled with a “paid for by” disclosure. People will be able to click the disclosure and see the ad library. This library will include information on the ad’s reach — who saw it, their gender and location, as well as a range of its impressions.

Information in the library will be viewable and searchable online for up to seven years, which exceeds the period required in the new election laws.

Another effort to exceed the legislative rules will see Facebook using its artificial-intelligence technologies and algorithms to detect ads or content that tries to circumvent the rules.

“We recognize that there’s going to probably be the potential for bad actors to try to work around the system — in other words, they may want to run a political ad and not seek to self-declare and not seek to be authorized,” Chan said. “That is obviously problematic for us because we recognize that the spirit of what Parliament intended and what we intend, in terms of what we’re trying to do, is provide the most transparency for political ads as possible.”

To help Facebook predict what issues might become key points of debate in the federal election, the company has amassed an group of policy advisers from a wide range of political backgrounds and expertise.

The group includes: former NDP MP Megan Leslie; former Stephen Harper aide Ray Novak, who is the managing director of Harper and Associates; Antonia Maioni, McGill University’s dean of arts; Ry Moran, executive director of the truth and reconciliation centre at the University of Manitoba; and David Zussman, a professor at the University of Victoria’s school of public administration.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Iconic white raven returns to Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Photographer John Domovich: ‘It blew me away when I first observed it’

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Qualicum Beach man arrested over racist incident at Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP said the man turned himself in

COVID-19: City of Parksville announces gradual re-opening plan

Sports courts and playgrounds to open June 5

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Parcel stolen from front porch, Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect

Unidentified woman allegedly stole package containing $400 smart watch

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read