Meta to allow political advertising for GE15, but not TikTok

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — Silicon Valley tech titan Meta that owns Facebook and Instagram will be allowing its various platforms to be used for political advertising for the upcoming 15th general election (GE15), but with a caveat that everything in the advertisement be made public.

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Popular social network TikTok, on the other hand, has decided to disallow any political advertising, preferring to stick to its roots of being a platform for fun activities.

Meta’s head of politics and government outreach in Asia-Pacific Roy Tan said the company took election campaigning seriously and wanted to allow not just the big parties but smaller ones to use its platform so they can engage with their voters.

He said in order to make sure there were no clickbaity and sensational posts that violate Meta’s standards and guidelines, all political advertisements will be put in an “Ad Library” so they are transparent, and everyone will be able to see who commissioned those advertisements.

“The reason we’re accepting political advertising is based on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, so they can decide who they want to vote for. We have also heard from small campaigners saying accepting advertising allows them a voice.

“We have a three-step strategy by first removing any content that violates community guidelines, reducing distribution of low quality and false news and removing the ability to monetise said content. The third step is to give the public some context to the information shared so they can decide for themselves if to trust and share it.

“We will also allow political advertisements to be made on Meta but we have our own ‘Add Transparency’ measures in place. The buyer of the advertisement must now authenticate their identity and location, provide context and information on who is paying for the advertisement so that everyone can see who is behind them,” Roy said yesterday during a virtual briefing on promoting election integrity.

Meta said that it aims to let people know who is behind the ads that they see across their apps, so that they can make informed decisions on polling day.

Advertisers in Malaysia are required to complete an authorisation process and include “Paid for by” disclaimers on these ads. Ads about elections or politics that run in Malaysia will also appear in the Ad Library so that people can see what ads are running, who saw them and how much was spent. This fully searchable archive stores ads for seven years.

“Our work to help protect the integrity of the upcoming Malaysia election builds on our ongoing efforts and investments to increase ads transparency, improve our enforcement on violating content and support digital literacy in Malaysia. We are committed to continuing this work in the lead-up to, during and after voting day,” added Noudhy Valdryno, head of public policy for Meta Malaysia.

On August 5, 2022 Meta in a report identified and removed over 600 accounts across all its social network platforms for violating the policy against “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, with most of them alleged to be part of a “troll farm” to corrupt or manipulate public discourse using fake accounts.

Meta claimed in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat report this network of fake accounts posted memes in the Malay language in support of the current government coalition and attempting to paint its critics as corrupt, in addition to promoting police.

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To date, it said it has removed 596 Facebook accounts, 180 pages, 11 groups and 72 Instagram accounts. Meta said its investigation found that these accounts were linked to the Malaysian police force.

When asked about these allegations and if Meta had detected more troll farms, Roy said the company could not divulge much about it but said it had teams looking at these patterns and trends to prevent repeat offenders.

Meanwhile, over at TikTok, no political advertising will be allowed on the video-sharing platform as it isn’t a go-to hub for breaking news.

Representatives from TikTok told Malay Mail that they have learnt from the Philippines and the US elections and have mechanisms in place to prevent misinformation and false news.

“We use algorithms that spot misinformation, have a moderation team as well as people to look into content and identify if it’s against our community guidelines. It consists of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and humans.

“Apart from this team of fact checkers and AI who work in shifts, we have reporting mechanisms in place and are partnered with AFP (Associated Foreign Press) to flag misinformation. Apart from that our ‘Report’ button is available on all videos so you can report anything suspicious. Such information will be blocked by our global PR team before it gets viral,” they said.

In addition, TikTok developed educational TikTok videos that provide community members with the tools they need to become more savvy digital citizens and and made it easy for people to report misleading content directly through its app, and these reports are sent to a dedicated US team that reviews them in accordance with its policies around misinformation.

Despite the loss of revenue which would peak during an election campaign, TikTok said they didn’t mind it as long as the content was true and fun in nature.

“We’d rather invest in the system. The battle against misinformation is never ending. From an election standpoint we want to ensure we’re a credible space,” they added.

Political advertising is a form of campaigning that allows candidates to directly convey their message to voters and influence the political debate. By running ads on various types of media, candidates can reach audiences that otherwise may not have been paying attention to the election and build name recognition, highlight important issues, and call attention to the shortcomings of their opponents.

Malaysia will head to the polls on November 19, 2022 and social media will be at the forefront for all political parties to disseminate and share information and party manifestos.–Malay Mail


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