Amid the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal — which Facebook now admits resulted in the harvesting of 87 million profiles — Mark Zuckerberg declared on Thursday that there’s been “no meaningful impact” on the platform’s bottom line. That was before TechCrunch reported that Facebook was secretly deleting the private messages of Zuckerberg while everyone else’s messages are forever preserved. And now Zuck has backtracked to a different controversy, which is the estimated 70 million users who saw political ads from fake Russian accounts ahead of the 2016 election.
In a Friday post on Facebook, Zuckerberg says that Facebook will soon hire thousands of new employees to prove that anyone wanting to run a politically-oriented ad has shown two things – (1) They are who they say they are; (2) They are not faking their location:
[F]rom now on, every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be verified. To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Any advertiser who doesn’t pass will be prohibited from running political or issue ads. We will also label them and advertisers will have to show you who paid for them. We’re starting this in the US and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months.
Zuckerberg also insists that more transparency will occur with ads, and any user should be able to see what other campaigns an advertiser is running. Further, anyone who sets up or manages a “large page” must undergo the verification process as well. He then promises all of these safechecks will occur well before the 2018 midterms, which goes back to his recent, apology-laden warning that “someone’s trying” to use Facebook to sway the midterm elections. Some may accuse Zuck of being “too little, too late,” but the forward-leaning view may help dampen that criticism.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin is still labeling removal of a noted Russian troll farm as “censorship,” and Zuckerberg is preparing to (maybe) do some more explaining on data privacy in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11th. This party isn’t even close to over, folks.