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Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Esteban Felix / AP

Facebook is going to require ads that are targeted to people based on "politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues" to be manually reviewed before they go live, according to an email sent to advertisers and obtained by Axios. That's a higher standard than that required of most Facebook ads, which are bought and uploaded to the site through an automated system. It's also warning that it expects the new policy to slow down the launch of new ad campaigns.

Why it matters: The steps Facebook is taking to combat questions of Russian election interference strike at the core of the company's business. The ad buyers who spent $450 million on Facebook ads love the platform's speed and efficiency — something they fear will be diminished by inserting more human oversight of political ads before they go live. The company's action comes as a political ad disclosure bill gains momentum on Capitol Hill.

From the email: "With this update, we'll be requiring more ads to go through human review. New campaigns with ad sets contain targeting options that we feel warrant additional review (such as those associated with topics such as politics, religion, ethnicity and social issues), we will route them for manual review prior to being approved. In these instances, advertisers are likely to experience a delay prior to the start of ad delivery, although we will look for ways to reduce any potential delays over time."

In Washington: Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar are working on a bill that will increase the disclosure requirements for digital political ads. It's expected to drop after the senators return from recess. "We'll probably introduce it right when we get back," Klobuchar said this week. "There aren't sticking points. We're just trying to get authors on the bill." A Facebook spokesperson tells Axios that it's "open to reviewing any reasonable Congressional proposals."

Details are required by law to be publicly disclosed about political ads running on TV stations, including cable and satellite networks. But that requirement does not extend to digital platforms.

Go deeper

53 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
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Why fears of a SPAC bubble may be overblown

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The SPAC surge continues unabated, with 10 new ones formed since Wednesday morning. And that's OK.

Between the lines: There are growing concerns that retail investors are about to get rolled, with smart sponsors taking advantage of dumb money.