EU pressurizes Facebook to rethink rules for political ads

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The European Union has not been taking it lightly on Facebook over its advertising rules concerning elections. The EU told Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, who is a former EU official and Member of the European Parliament, to rethink some of the company’s rules aimed at protecting elections from foreign interference.

Pulling no punches, EU commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova said that the EU wished to send a clear message to Facebook over the need to impart greater transparency around funding for political adverts.

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Facebook has sought to allay fears of foreign meddling in elections by requiring political advertisers to first register in the country that is the target of their campaign. But the EU fears this could have unintended consequences for its own institutions, which could be prevented from using Facebook services such as Instagram and Messenger during the European Elections in May.

In the letter the EU voiced its fear that a national approach ignored these pan-European political structures and as such ‘would encroach upon fundamental EU rights and freedoms, such as free movement and political participation. In their current form, Facebook’s envisaged rules would therefore hinder the exercise of EU electoral rights.’

The EU-wide rules follow on from a similar rollout in the UK earlier this year, spearheaded by Clegg, who has made it his personal mission to clampdown on political misinformation.

Yetunde Adegoke

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