Oct 30, 2018

Report: Facebook fails to verify political advertisers' identities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Vice News got Facebook to approve its purchases of ads under the names of all 100 U.S. senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), per a new report.

Why it matters: Facebook's efforts at transparency in political advertising won't be effective if the platform does not verify the information users provide.

Flashback: Vice also performed a similar test earlier this month, that saw ads approved in the names of Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, and the Islamic State. Facebook said it shouldn't have approved them. An attempt to place an ad posing as Hillary Clinton was denied.

The details: Facebook now requires users to disclose who is paying for political ads, and posts the information at the top of the ad for users to see. Vice News did not actually buy Facebook ads as part of the test.

  • Currently, Facebook users can flag suspicious ads, articles or Facebook pages.
  • Federal elections authorities are in contact with Facebook so ads or disclaimers that violate election law can be flagged.
"We know we can’t do this alone and by housing these ads for up to seven years, people, regulators, third-parties and watchdog groups can hold these groups more accountable. This is also one piece of our broader efforts to bring greater transparency to ads related to politics on Facebook. An advertiser must also confirm his or her identity and location in the US before placing these ads.”
Facebook spokesperson

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health