Facebook’s proposed regulations for political ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for the company’s improper harvesting of data from nearly 50 million of its users, and pledged to invest $250 million in new security tools to combat malicious activity and protect people’s information.

But according to new documents published Sunday, Facebook’s is doing little to change its policies.

The documents, disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), look at the “Policy Enforcement” page of Facebook’s website. It is the site that determines what users can and cannot post, and what posts and advertisements it will allow. It’s the same page that Facebook says it updated in April to ask users what they want to see.

The documents go well beyond that data, however. They show that Facebook averages payments to publishers and advertisers in the hundreds of millions, and often billions of dollars.

The redacted documents that the ICIJ published have not been independently verified, and were originally published by German news outlet Handelsblatt.

But because the documents made it into the hands of journalists, and were previously unsealed by US courts, they’ve been examined by several major media outlets. The leaked data reveal that the social media giant frequently alters its policies and sometimes increases the frequency with which it revokes people’s posts.

Here’s what that policy looks like in Chicago, for example.

In the map below, you can see how Chicago and other American cities share the same posts as Facebook sites in Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Venezuela and other emerging countries. The upshot? It’s easy to reach Facebook using multiple accounts.

The ICIJ describes its investigation as a “massive cache of records detailing Facebook’s multi-billion dollar relationship with advertisers, from the discounts they get on political ads to the geographies and countries that receive free posts.”

The leaked documents also detail Facebook’s payment systems, and how the company treats the revenue they generate.

What that means is you’re more likely to see an ad on Facebook while living in Venezuela or Reykjavik, Iceland.

Facebook representatives did not respond to a request for comment, but the company is not denying the documents are accurate.

“As we have said before, as we engage in business development, we may pursue different business models. It’s important to note, however, that Facebook does not manipulate its business model or how we sell ads based on a country’s political culture,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.


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