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.


Arab News at 44: Online Pakistan edition has formed its own regional identity

Updated 20 April 2019
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Arab News at 44: Online Pakistan edition has formed its own regional identity

  • Arab News expanded its footprint entering Pakistan in mid 2017
  • Its Pakistan Edition was founded on February 2018 and has been a major success

ISLAMABAD: Arab News’ online Pakistan edition, which launched on Feb. 8, 2018, has established itself as a credible extension of the Riyadh-based newspaper, which today marks its 44th anniversary.
Arab News entered Pakistan as part of the newspaper’s ongoing global and digital expansion, and to tap news from other parts of Asia, hiring skilled journalists and freelance contributors.
An exclusive interview in October 2018 with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was newly elected as prime minister at the time, catapulted Arab News in Pakistan.
Realizing the news potential in the country, Arab News capitalized on its success and set up a bureau, but not before landing more special reports that grabbed the local media’s attention and attracted a larger readership.
The website www.arabnews.pk became the parent organization’s first in a series of country-specific online editions that the newspaper is planning to launch, and is part of its “more digital, more global” strategy.
Former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, who on Thursday was appointed minister for science and technology, officially inaugurated the newspaper’s Pakistan bureau earlier this year.
Led by award-winning veteran journalist Baker Atyani, and under the guidance of Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, the team at the Pakistan edition has worked diligently to penetrate the country’s vibrant news market.
As such, followership of the newspaper’s Pakistan social media account has quickly ballooned.
Its online coverage of the first visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan in February was widely praised.
Arab News published special reports and features on the deep-rooted and diversifying ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Also a major hit was Abbas’s exclusive, lengthy sit-down with President Dr. Arif Alvi during the crown prince’s visit.
Another exclusive that garnered a serious online buzz was on Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris offering to build 100,000 housing units in Pakistan.
The Pakistan edition has kept a special focus on business and finance, and has spoken with movers and shakers, including those in the corridors of power.
In August 2018, it exposed the ruling party’s hit single “Rok Sako To Rok Lo Tabdeeli Aayi Re,” produced for the last general election, as being suspiciously similar to a remixed version of the Indian religious song “Bankya Maa Re Nach. The report was instantly picked up by Pakistani media.
Days before the election, Atyani conducted a one-on-one exclusive with Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Arab News’ Pakistan edition is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). With the edition’s success, the SRMG is looking to replicate the model across Asia.