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Facebook makes transparency tool compulsory for election

Paul Brislen, Editor. 17 June 2020, 7:36 am

Facebook will make it compulsory for New Zealand political parties to use its transparency reporting tool if they want to advertise on the platform during the next general election later this year.

In keeping with the New Zealand Electoral Act, Facebook will require parties disclose who paid for ads and provide contact details of those placing the ads.

The edict extends to those not directly connected with political parties that may advertise on election issues such as social spending, for example.

In New Zealand the Electoral Act does already requires those who advertise to carry a promoter statement so this move by Facebook simply brings it into line with New Zealand law, however it is the first time the platform has required New Zealand political entities abide by its transparency policy and follows evidence of extensive interference in other national elections around the world.

Particularly of interest to observers of election advertising will be micro-targeted advertisements that use social media platforms to pinpoint advertising to particular demographics and which flaunt the laws regarding spending limits. This tactic was used in Australian politics in recent years and has lead to a number of calls for political advertising to be banned on social media platforms.

This year's election will be somewhat unusual following, as it does, the COVID-19 outbreak. While New Zealand appears to be relatively free of the virus, the Electoral Commission is ensuring New Zealand voters can do so remotely using postal ballots, and also providing a longer voting period than normal to allow for social distancing.

Unfortunately there is one victim of this year's outbreak. Polling station staff will not be issuing "I voted" stickers this year.


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