Foreign Political Ads Banned on Facebook Ahead of Indonesian Elections

To address concerns that its platform is being used to adversely affect voting behavior, Facebook has banned any political advertisements originating from outside of Indonesia as the world’s third-largest democracy heads towards presidential and legislative elections next month.

The presidential campaign sees incumbent Joko Widodo fighting to hold on to his executive seat against ultranationalist former General Prabowo Subianto, who he narrowly defeated in 2014.

Facebook said it will focus on “removing fake accounts, reducing false news, disrupting bad actors and increasing ads transparency,” all while “supporting an informed and engaged electorate.”

 
 

The ban kicked in yesterday with Facebook posting a lengthy statement titled “Working to Safeguard Elections in Indonesia”.

In it the social media giant wrote:

[We] want to make sure people see accurate information about the upcoming election and the choices they’ll be making at the ballot box. That’s why we’ve taken steps — in Indonesia and around the world — to improve the quality and authenticity of information on our platform and fight false news.

 
 

Indonesian leaders continue to fight their own battle against inflammatory material online that threatens national cohesion in a country with a history of divisive social and religious issues.

Facebook said in February that it removed hundreds of accounts and pages linked to the Indonesian cyber group Saracen – a group that has linked to spreading hate speech and fake news online.

Facebook said they are taking a three-pronged approach to the problem in the post written by Katie Harbath, Public Policy Director, Global Elections and Ruben Hattari, Head of Public Policy, Indonesia.

  • First, we remove content that violates our Community Standards, which help enforce the safety and security of the platform.
  • Then, for content that does not directly break our rules, but still undermines the authenticity of the platform — like clickbait or sensational material — we reduce its distribution in News Feed so less people see it.
  • Finally, we inform people by giving them more context on the information they see. For instance, when someone comes across a story, they can tap on “About this article” to see more details on the article and the publisher.

Along with increased scrutiny over there role in the American elections, Facebook was sharply criticized by the EU for failing to do enough to fight election meddling.

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