Facebook accused of attempting to 'water down' new regulations for political ads


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.22 30 Mar 2021


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Facebook has been accused of attempting to "water down" new regulations on political advertising online.

The tech giant was before an Oireachtas committee today to discuss the proposed reforms, which would see a 'transparency notice' placed alongside political ads on social media.

Facebook told TDs and Senators that it has privacy concerns about the bill.

The bill would mean that in the few weeks before an election, political ads would be flagged as such.

Information about who placed the ad would be available, while platforms such as Facebook would have the responsibility to ensure the advertiser is compliant with the law.

Sinn Fein's Eoin Ó Broin was disappointed with the social media company's stance.

He said: "They're really basic propositions and the idea that Facebook would come to the committee and try and water down already a very weak proposal... I think it's very concerning."

Dualta Ó Broin, head of public policy at Facebook Ireland, denied the firm is attempting to water down the policy.

Outlining one of the company's main concerns, he explained: "If you release the exact targeting data for an ad, it might be possible for bad actors to work back from the targeting criteria and the audience to figure out who the individuals were."

Facebook says it believes the bill should progress, but feels a different approach should be found to alleviate some of its concerns.

It also believes that rules around political ads and standards should be 'harmonised across the EU' wherever possible.

It claims that future EU laws could lead to platforms potentially finding themselves in situations where they "have to choose between violating Irish law, or violating EU law".

Main image: File photo. Picture by: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

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