Facebook toughens political ad policies in India ahead of election

Under intense global public scrutiny, Facebook last year introduced several initiatives to increase oversight of political ads. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
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Facebook toughens political ad policies in India ahead of election

  • Users will see political advertisements with “published by” and “paid by” disclaimers
  • The new features and policy becomes effective Feb. 21

NEW DELHI: Facebook Inc. is toughening up the rules governing political advertisements in India to create more transparency ahead of the country’s general elections due before May, the social media giant said late on Thursday.
Users will see political advertisements with “published by” and “paid by” disclaimers, the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company said in a statement.
The move comes weeks after Facebook told Reuters it would extend some of its political advertising rules and tools for curbing election interference to India, Nigeria, Ukraine and the European Union before significant votes in these places in the next few months.
Users will be able to access a library that allows them to search and find out more about political advertisements such as how much is spent on them and the demographics of advertising views, Facebook said.
People will soon also be able to see country locations of users who manage Facebook pages that carry political ads.
“By increasing transparency around ads and pages on Facebook, we hope to increase accountability for advertisers, help people assess the content they’re seeing and prevent future abuse in elections,” Facebook said.
The new features and policy becomes effective Feb. 21.
The moves are part of Facebook’s attempts to reshape its public image which took a beating last year after a privacy scandal involving British data consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
The company has also faced intense pressure from India, one of the world’s biggest Internet markets, to curb the spread of misinformation through its WhatsApp messenger that has lead to a spate of killings.
Facebook said it is also making it tougher to run a page using a fake account by introducing two-factor authentication and by asking for page administrators’ primary country location.
In past few years Facebook has effectively been used globally by politicians and their adversaries to distribute fake news and other propaganda.
Ads on Facebook can widen the reach of such material, but some of those influence efforts may violate election rules and the company’s policies.
Under intense global public scrutiny, Facebook last year introduced several initiatives to increase oversight of political ads.


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).