CONFIRMED: Facebook Allowed Fake News Ads Ahead Of Nigeria's Elections

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Speaking on the development, Herman Wasserman, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, said: "This is worrying. One would like to see Facebook doing more to fact-check claims in political advertising during a political campaign period. The evidence seems to suggest that their system does not work as effectively as it should.”

In January 2019, Facebook said it would place a temporary ban on political ads related to the 2019 elections in the country, basing its decision on the need to discourage foreign influence in the electoral process.
A Facebook statement issued that month to the effect read: “Earlier this month in Nigeria, we began temporarily disallowing electoral ads purchased from outside the country ahead of the election and will implement the same policy in Ukraine ahead of their election. Advertisers will need to be authorized to purchase political ads; we'll give people more information about ads related to politics and issues; and we'll create a publicly searchable library of these ads for up to seven years.”
However, according to an investigation by Al Jazeera, even false political ads can find their way into the social media space, as the automated ad approval system can be easily tricked to some level.
Al Jazeera placed some ads on Facebook, containing false claims, which were eventually approved. One of the claims was that Boko Haram would take part in the elections. The ads were estimated by Facebook's system to possibly reach between seven and 17 million people.
Among the claims were that US President Donald Trump supported Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); that the deadline for collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was extended by one week; and that refugees would get a voting extension after February 16.
After slight changes were made to trick the Facebook automated ad system, all four false claims were approved. However, the one on refugees was eventually taken down.
The ads were, however, deactivated by Al Jazeera before they ran on the platform and the website where the news stories were posted was hidden from the public to ensure the stories were not visible to search engines.
Speaking on the development, Herman Wasserman, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, said: "This is worrying. One would like to see Facebook doing more to fact-check claims in political advertising during a political campaign period. The evidence seems to suggest that their system does not work as effectively as it should.”
To buy ads on Facebook, users have to go through Facebook's Ad Manager, an automated system that not only allows users to focus their advertisements on a very specific audience, but also approves ads before publication. Any of the four ads by Al Jazeera should have been disallowed, since they were placed from Qatar and Facebook had announced that it would not allow users to buy political ads from outside Nigeria.
Speaking on its commitment to discouraging fake ads, a Facebook official said the comoany "is committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, and protecting election integrity", but that "there is no silver bullet to this issue".
Facebook said preventing such adds from its space "requires a multi-pronged approach", noting that several solutions had been implemented, including teaming up with local third-party fact-checkers, rolling out educational tips on national and regional media across Nigeria, and introducing new options in English and Hausa so people can report posts that contain incorrect election information, encourage violence or otherwise violate its Community Standards. 
"Although false news does not in and of itself violate our Community Standards, it often violates our policies in other categories, which can lead to removal, as occurred here," Facebook told Al Jazeera.
"The majority of these ads were rejected for policy violations and never appeared on Facebook. The small number that were approved were paused before they went live and likely would have received limited to zero distribution on Facebook as a result of additional violations of our advertising policies.
"While we have made good progress, we recognise there is always more we can do because the threats we face keep evolving - but we'll continue to work on improving our systems and technology to prevent abuse."
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75 Comments

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  • Ayomide Samuel Aina December 16, 2019 06:27:39 AM
    This is Informative
  • ewache benard December 11, 2019 11:40:35 AM
    good update
  • Kayode A peter December 3, 2019 08:55:17 AM
    So Facebook is corrupt
  • John Kelechi November 28, 2019 10:39:35 AM
    íntєrєѕtíng
  • Emmanuel Ifeanyichukwu November 12, 2019 01:50:31 PM
    facebook don da do scam
  • Praise Anuoluwapo November 12, 2019 10:50:59 AM
    Interesting
  • Oyedele Ibrahim November 8, 2019 07:28:53 PM
    Bad enough
  • Thaddeus Uzochukwu Nwaneri November 2, 2019 09:44:05 PM
    This is not good
  • Nurudeen Biliamin October 25, 2019 01:26:29 PM
    nice update
  • Liberty Eyoh October 24, 2019 07:09:37 AM
    Nice update
  • adeola asoore October 21, 2019 12:32:12 PM
    Thanks for updates
  • sylvanus okafor October 21, 2019 03:01:25 AM
    thanks for the update
  • Agape Miteu September 26, 2019 12:04:00 AM
    Very intriguing and fascinating
  • Agbarakwe Calistus September 20, 2019 10:42:16 AM
    Good update
  • Michael Mickey September 12, 2019 11:59:39 AM
    The media should not be used to spread fake news
  • Babatola Olagoke September 6, 2019 06:41:03 AM
    Thanks for the update
  • mhiz olaide sugar August 9, 2019 12:48:03 PM
    Social media is for anything, don't blame them for allowing the users to post what they want
  • Friday Michael August 7, 2019 05:57:18 PM
    Thanks for the update
  • Olalere Oluwafemi August 6, 2019 07:40:55 PM
    Candynews,thanks for the info
  • Taiwo salawu August 6, 2019 11:43:53 AM
    This is nice very
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