Facebook tightens control on Israeli election ads

In the weeks just ahead of the Knesset election, the identities of advertisers will have to be confirmed.  

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Facebook has announced that from late March, just ahead of Israel’s April 9th parliamentary election, anyone buying a political advertisement on the giant social media site will have to have their identity confirmed first.

“We are planning to launch new ads transparency tools to help prevent foreign interference in the upcoming Israeli election and make electoral advertising on Facebook more transparent,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Earlier this month it was reported that Nadav Argaman, director of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), warned that another country would try to influence the Israeli general election, though he said he did not know which political party would benefit. According to the Hadashot TV report, he said that the foreign country would intervene in Israel’s election using hackers and cybertechnology.

After the airing of the television report, the Shin Bet said that it “would like to make clear that the State of Israel and the intelligence community have the tools and capabilities to identify, monitor, and thwart foreign efforts to bear influence, should there be any.

“The Israeli defense apparatus is able to ensure that democratic and free elections take place in Israel,” the agency said in a statement.

Israeli legislation restricts propaganda and prohibits it from being distributed anonymously. However, the law does not currently apply to online and social media activity. Last week, Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party was said to be the only political faction to oppose a motion urging the Central Elections Committee to prohibit anonymous political activity on social media.

Once enforced, Facebook’s new policies in Israel will require advertisers of electoral ads to be pre-approved, the company announced.

Each ad will then be entered into a publicly-searchable archive with detailed information on who paid for it. The ads will be stored for up to seven years, with information included on the amount of money paid and the demographics reached by the advertisement.

Israel still uses paper ballots rather than digital systems, so that the only opportunity for a hacking attack comes before actual voting.