Facebook’s New Data & Political Ad Transparency Rules: What Campaigns & Advocates Need to Know

Facebook fades

In the last six weeks, it seems like not a day goes by that we don’t see a big change announced by Facebook or Twitter. It’s a lot to keep track of, so we’ve decided to start doing Platform Update Notes on Fridays starting today [Ed note: on Beth’s Becker Digital Strategies Facebook page]. Here’s a look at all of the recent big changes and some clarification about what we know for sure and what information is still to come.

New Rules for Facebook Page Admins, Data Access & Transparency

Page Admin Verification

Today, Facebook announced two separate changes. The first requires administrators of pages with a large number of followers to upload government ID through an encrypted form, though the data will be subsequently deleted once verification of identity has occurred. To be extra clear, identification data will not be kept or stored; it’s one-time verification. Ed. Note: this is the first time Facebook has required page admins to share any form of ID to show that they are indeed who they claim to be.

Administrators of pages with a large number of followers will have to upload government ID via encrypted form, though the data will be subsequently deleted.Click To Tweet

Advertising Transparency

Facebook has also clarified some aspects of the new ad transparency program which, at this time has three main features:

  1. The page admin verification described above.
  2. A letter mailed by Facebook to the page admins with a unique code they will need to input into the system in order to complete the verification process [Ed. note: snail mail!].
  3. Ads will be required to disclose what candidate, organization or business paid for them.

Two other changes as part of the ad transparency efforts that you should be aware of:

  1. There will be a new tab on the left side column of a page which will allow a user to see all of the ads that page is currently running.
  2. The company is creating a new archive for ads that have been labeled political, which will retain the ads for four years. The archive will also show how much was spent, basic demographics of who saw the ads and the range of impressions the ad received.

[Ed. note: political “dark posts” will be dark no more!]

Facebook is creating a new archive for ads that have been labeled political, which will retain the ads for four years.Click To Tweet

Issue Ads

Today’s second change: the previously announced transparency rules will apply not just to electoral ads but to issue ads as well. Exactly how issue ads will be defined is still something the company has not announced, but if I had to guess I would think that means anything 501c4-related. As for c3s, I have no idea yet if this would apply to issue education advertising (as opposed to advocacy) as well.

Political ad transparency rules will apply not just to electoral ads but to issue ads as well.Click To Tweet

Data Protection

Yesterday, Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer posted an extensive list of updates to recent restrictions Facebook has put in place regarding the collection of data from Facebook users. These included changes to many of the Facebook APIs with regard to access to user data and how the data is used, the removal of Partner Categories in Advertising targeting options and more.

What’s Next?

Just a reminder that the changes listed above are only the beginnings of what I expect to be a continuous parade over the next few months. From now on, I’ll post an update on the Becker Digital Strategies Facebook page on Fridays unless there are no changes in a given week.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments…if we don’t know the answer, we will try to get answers for you but can’t guarantee that answers will be readily available. Changes are continually evolving, and Facebook is announcing clarifications regularly!


Let’s start with the one big change from Twitter. In January, Twitter announced a big change to their API and Terms of Service that banned the simultaneous posting of identical or substantially identical content from multiple accounts and simultaneous actions like retweets and likes from multiple accounts. This change is effective immediately and affects third-party tools like Hootsuite et al, which used to allow a user to write one tweet and with a toggle or ten tweet that content from multiple accounts with one click of a button (it also has changed for TweetDeck, which is owned by Twitter).

An expected casualty of this change is mass synchronized Tweet tool Thunderclap (insert me whoopin’ and hollerin’ here, since of longed for its demise forever) but we’ve seen no official announcements from the company as of this writing. It does not affect tools like Click-to-Tweet, as Click-to-Tweet told me when I emailed them about it.

That’s it for now! At least until tomorrow….

Written by
Beth Becker
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  • Great question! I believe they haven’t released details like that. The announcements laid out the framework, but I think the details about implementation are still in the works.