EU draws red card against Facebook

Social media website Facebook is introducing stricter rules for political advertising.  The idea is to prevent external interference in the European elections, but many in the European institutions are up in arms.  They say that the new rules prevent pan-European campaigning!

All Facebook pages wishing to place political ads must now be registered in the country where they operate.  The measure is an attempt to prevent outside interference, but is causing a headache for many EU bodies that are often registered in Brussels. Under the new rules these bodies can only advertise in Belgium and not in other EU countries. Many such bodies are eager to reach people across the EU.

The European Parliament, European Commission and the European Council have written a joint letter to Facebook claiming the measure is a violation of European rights and liberties. The European bodies are seeking changes to allow them to reach all the peoples of Europe. The new measure also poses a problem for European parties that can no longer address people across the continent simply. Ads have to be managed via the national political parties in each member state or an appointed representative per country.

Facebook has a solution and is willing to allow one representative to be recognised in each country who could then manage ads for his or her country on behalf of European pages.

Former Belgian PM and leader of the liberal democrats in the European Parliament isn’t impressed and even speaks of the death of pan-European democracy, while Belgian Green MEP Philippe Lamberts (below) says Facebook is giving an advantage to nationalists above transnational organisations. Story to be continued!

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