back to article Facebook cuts off independent political ad reviewers, claims security concerns

Facebook has cut off independent reviewers of political ads that run on its platform, citing security concerns. That's a claim the reviewers have rejected. The social media giant has added code to its system that prevents third parties from automatically grabbing information on ads that appear on its platform, while also …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    This smells like FB is gearing up for some ad revenew.

    Just today, the main stream media is reporting that both Russia and China are working on targeting American voters. I thought I saw one the mentioned FB but can't find it now.

  2. ThatOne Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Not surprised

    Well, they won't let people mess with their money maker. Where else can you buy privileged access to millions of voters' heads?

  3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    How is this done ?

    "deeming computer-generated clicks illegitimate and requiring physical mouse clicks before the details behind an ad are made available"

    Why would the browser allow a website to determine that ?

    1. matjaggard

      Re: How is this done ?

      Security. The web browser has to be able to stop a rogue script clicking on a "new window" link, but allow the user for example. Once you've done that then there's a way for the website to determine if a click was by a user or not. I'm not saying that's how it's done, but there's no point in hiding the source of a click if there is a way to find it out.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: How is this done ?

        So what's to stop someone from taking a copy of Firefox and modifying it to lie about this?

      2. Che van der Showa

        Re: How is this done ?

        Agreed. It's how reCAPTCHA's "I am not a robot" tick boxes work. If the user's mouse movements are determined to potentially be computer/bot generated, it makes you go through that awful rigmarole of identifying which boxes contain traffic lights etc.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: How is this done ?

          CAPTCHA seems to do it all the time anyway.

          1. Wexford

            Re: How is this done ?

            Try being less...robotic

  4. EricM

    Finally FB cares about privacy

    even if only about privacy for their revenue earned for letting their customers manipulate the western political systems...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    making them search for ads by keyword is never going to work... think rick-rolling

  6. Nick Kew

    "independent political ad reviewers"?

    Sounds like a convenient label for some potentially very dodgy activities.

    If I were facebook I'd be looking to limit them, too. The next Cambridge Analytica might be a whole lot more sinister and damaging.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "independent political ad reviewers"?

      Then they could partner up with some academics - or news organisations they choose to trust.

      But this is Facebook, and they aren't trying to be open and honest. They're a bunch of lying sacks of shit, led by a lying sack of shit. So that's how they'll operate. Until they get a good shafting by governments, which can't come soon enough.

  7. MJI Silver badge

    block them

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: block them

      Useful information. Now, how are you going to get Farcebook addicts and Herr Drumpf's "poorly educated voters" to do any of that? These are the anti-VAXers of the cyberworld.

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Anti-Vaxers

        Why do all these x86-lovers still get all huffy about the VAX? I mean, yeah, it almost defined the term "CISC", what with "Polynomial Evaluate", but at least you could expect to survive having a paper copy of the architectural spec thrown at you. Let's have a little perspective.

        Wait, do you mean those following in the wake of Wakefield?

        Never mind.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    FB is in full attack mode...

    1) Consolidate Whatsapp, Instagram, Messenger

    2) Op-ed in the press about how good FB is, and upcoming "zuck-talks"

    3) Block independent researches

    Evidently, they see their whole business model suddenly and thoroughly in danger...

    Is ElReg going to review the upcoming "Zucked!" book (hope the title is right).

    1. davemcwish

      Re: How long...

      Indeed. There also the Facebook Research VPN app that managed to slip though into the Fruity App Store.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: How long...

        How does a 13 year-old sign a legally binding contract giving Facebook access to all their data in exchange for money? That doesn't seem terribly legal to me without explicit (and verifiable) parental permission.

  9. Someone Else Silver badge

    Noticing a pattern here...

    Facebook has cut off independent reviewers of political ads that run on its platform, citing security concerns.

    I've noticed that this rubric of "security" (an updated derivative of "Won't somebody think of the cheeeldren!") is starting to permeate the lexicon of large, fatass corporations whose primary business is productizing and monetizing its users' data. This is being used to make some of its less transparent operations more palatable to the illiterati, because, well, who isn't against "improving" security, right?

    I call bullshit. Any company that hides something under the blanket of "security concerns" should have to pass the same smell test that Micros~1 did (and still must) when it starts spouting its classic BS line about "improving security".

    Hey! There is a pattern goes back even farther that I thought!

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Facebook has cut off independent reviewers of political ads that run on its platform, citing security concerns.

    No need for external reviewers - FB has a couple of British politicians on the payroll to provide expert opinion and advice

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Contract reviewers

      Why don't they just contract it all out the the Internet Research Agency? It would be enormously more efficient after all.

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