Two years ago, the thought of a foreign government being responsible for strategically hacking the United States’ elections in order to curry favor for a certain candidate would have seemed like the contrived plot of an international spy novel.
Flash forward to spring of 2018, and the largely agreed upon fact that the Russian government had a hand in Donald Trump’s sweeping of the electoral college is starting to feel almost mundane.
Despite this, its consequences are still very real and present—as evidenced by the fact that a man who looks, talks, and behaves like a sock puppet is now the leader of the free world.
Another party feeling the burn of the Russian hacking scandal is a ginger by the name of Mark Zuckerberg. You may know him as the founder of Facebook, a gig he’s come under fire for in recent months due to the social media platform’s role as a hosting site for Russian-sponsored political ads.
Zuck is now trying to atone for Facebook’s shortcomings through instituting new, comprehensive policies that require all political ads to be labeled as such.
From now on, ads that are construed as political will say “Paid for by” at the top; how much money was spent on the content, how many individuals viewed it, and the demographics (age, gender, and location) of said individuals will also be readily available. In addition, the identity and contact information of the sponsor will be accessible to the public for seven years after the ad’s posting.
One potential pitfall is that identifying which ads constitute political messages is not such a cut and dry process—honestly, is anything not political in this political climate? To address this, Facebook has come up with its own definition: any content posted
“with the goal of either influencing public debate, promoting a ballot measure or electing a candidate.”
Now that you have the criteria you need, Zuckerberg is asking for Facebook users’ help in combatting unidentified sponsors, and is urging people to report ads they deem suspicious. So go forth, report your friend’s aunt’s obnoxious status about why teachers should have guns, and help save our democracy!