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Facebook (FB) to Briefly Block Foreign Ad Buyers in Australia

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In the run-up to upcoming elections in various countries, Facebook (FB - Free Report) is going all out to secure the platform and eliminate any external interference.

The company recently announced that it will temporarily stop foreign entities from buying electoral ads in Australia ahead of the federal elections in May this year. Any ads with references to “politicians, parties or election suppression, political slogans and party logos” will fall under electoral ads.

Notably, the rule will commence the day after the election is announced.

Facebook is taking improved measures to prevent any interference in elections especially after it confirmed that around 300K Australian users were affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Facebook, Inc. Quote

Security Measures for Users in Australia

Facebook is working with an international news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP) to launch a fact-checking program in Australia. The program will help the company easily identify false content and lower its view rate by placing it in the bottom of the News Feed.

Additionally, Facebook has increased its investments in both people and technology to take down fake accounts, which are primarily responsible for the creation of misleading content.

Notably, the company recently took down a few fake accounts after Kate Washington, an Australian politician, identified them.

Facebook has also updated its Ad Library containing all active ads on Facebook and the Pages that feature them. The Library also includes details such as the Page creation date and “primary country of people who manage Pages with large audiences.”

However, Facebook does not require advertisers in the country to present necessary documents, before placing political ads, per Guardian.

Regulations Tightened

Representatives from across the globe are coming up with strict regulations to keep a check on social media content.

Australia recently approved new laws for social media companies lay down huge fines and jail terms for executives if they fail to quickly remove violent content, per Reuters. Additionally, Facebook and Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) are facing increased scrutiny from Australia's competition regulator over their dominance in online ads and news.

Indonesian government took a similar stance by threatening to shut down Facebook if it found any external interference during elections. Facebook employees in the country could be imprisoned for up to 12 years or fined by as much as $871,000 if they were found involved in breaching the rules.

Moreover, the European Union (EU) brought into effect General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on May 25, 2018, which placed tights control on how companies deal with user data. Failing to abide by the rules will attract huge fines.

Further, the Election Commission of India (EC) mandated Facebook, Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) and Google to follow the code of conduct for transparency in political ads.

Zacks Rank & a Key Pick

Facebook currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A better-ranked stock in the broader technology sector is Ciena Corporation (CIEN - Free Report) , sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for Ciena is projected to be 16.8%.

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