Facebook will send postcards bearing codes to advertisers if they want to purchase ads for a specific candidate. Advertisers must provide Facebook the special code included in the mailed postcard to prove that they're in the United States.
It's a simple and unsophisticated yet fairly logical measure to try and avoid election trolls from proliferating the site with hazardous, offensive, and troll-like content in time for the midterm elections this coming November. The new verification system will be mandatory for all advertising that mentions the name of a specific candidate running for a federal office — like the presidency, for example.
The Postcard Verification System Won't Solve Everything
Facebook admits the solution seems a bit eccentric, saying that it probably "won't solve everything," as the company's global director of policy program Katie Harbath tells Reuters — but it's merely one step the site is taking to avoid foreign agents from purchasing ads under fake accounts to try and sway public opinion, and in turn, influence the outcome of elections. However, it must be noted that the postcard-and-code system isn't required for ads about political issues, unless they mention a specific candidate, that is.
The move comes after criticism of Facebook's insufficient control over fake news and trolls. When Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, a handful of critics slammed Facebook and blamed its fake news problem — including trolls, propaganda accounts, and other bad actors — of ultimately influencing the election in Trump's favor.
Facebook On Fake News
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called such accusations "crazy," at least initially. After much thought on the subject, he later clarified that Facebook indeed plays a role in delivering news to its audience and that his company does not bear the qualities of a traditional media and tech company. Since then, Facebook has been rolling out improvements that attempt to remedy its fake news disease.
News of the postcard verification system becomes even more significant considering the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller just unveiled crucial things about the Russians' role in meddling with the 2016 presidential election. His indictment exposes a sophisticated campaign designed to sway public opinion during the said period by using fake profiles and distributing fraudulent content in various online venues.
The effectiveness of Facebook's new verification system remains to be seen, but the mere fact that Facebook is taking steps to prevent ill activities on its site means that it's acknowledging its role in shaping the morale and ideology of some of its audience.
Do you think the postcard system will do any good? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!