October 15, 2018 / 11:22 PM / a month ago

Facebook to say who pays for UK political adverts

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Facebook said on Tuesday that it would require British political adverts posted on its pages to carry disclaimers and identity flags, in an attempt to crack down on the spread of misinformation.

Britain’s parliament has called for tech firms such as Facebook to be made liable for disseminating misleading political information and targeting citizens using data manipulation, in the wake of seismic political shifts such as Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016.

Facebook was heavily criticized in the United States for a lax approach to fake news reports and disinformation, which many believe affected voting in the 2016 presidential election, won by Donald Trump.

Advertisers who mention political figures, material or parties will be obliged to provide evidence of their identity and location and state on Facebook who is paying for the advertisement, the firm said.

“We see this as an important part of ensuring electoral integrity and helping people understand who they are engaging with,” it said in a statement, adding that the move was a “significant change” for those who place adverts on the site.

The information on the advert will be stored by Facebook for up to seven years.

“By having people verify who they are, we believe it will help prevent abuse,” Facebook added.

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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