Facebook app and Instagram start exposing locale of users and Pages to help protect U.S. election

Posts from high-reach Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts outside of the U.S. will now list the account owner’s primary country location at the top of the post.

Facebook Locale Notice
New location label that displays international accounts and Pages to Facebook users within the U.S.

In a move to further safeguard its platforms in the coming election season, Facebook has launched a new transparency tactic. The company is adding the primary country location to every post shared by a high-reach Facebook Page or Instagram account managed by an individual or organization outside the U.S. According to Facebook, the new transparency feature is being piloted in the U.S., meaning it applies to Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts that are based outside the U.S. but reach large audiences within the U.S. Sarah Perez, who originally reported this change on TechCrunch, was unable to get Facebook to comment on what constitutes a “large” audience or how many accounts would be impacted.

The goal here is to give Facebook users more information about the content showing up in their feeds so that they can better gauge its reliability and authenticity.

These changes are part of our broader efforts to protect elections and increase transparency on Facebook and Instagram so people can make more informed decisions about the posts they read, trust and share, writes Facebook Product Manager, Anita Joseph, and Instagram Product Manager, Georgina Sheedy-Collier.

This is the latest move in a long line of transparency efforts by Facebook during the last two years. It was March, 2018 when CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, first admitted the company had made mistakes, leaving its platform vulnerable to bad actors that used Facebook to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Just over a year ago, Facebook began listing the primary country location for certain Pages – along with the Page’s creation date, any previous Pages it had merged with or any name changes for the Page – within a new Page Transparency section. Putting the county location in every post adds an extra layer of transparency – before now, users would have had to search through the profile information of a Page or Instagram account to find where the owner was located.

Now, the Page or Instagram account’s primary country location will appear directly under the Page’s or account owner’s name at the top of the post. Also, Facebook is adding an “About this Page” pop-up window attached to the post that displays directly in the user’s feed stating, “The person who posted this and many of this Page’s followers are based in different locations.”

Facebook’s fight against inauthentic content is an ongoing struggle for the company. In October 2018, Facebook reported it had removed 559 Pages and 251 accounts for violating spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior rules. In its most recent transparency report released March 2, 2020, Facebook confirmed it removed 248 Facebook Pages, 1,245 Instagram accounts and 467 Facebook accounts in February alone.

According to Joseph and Sheedy-Collier, the company is continuing to explore new ways to expand these transparency measures to more places across Facebook Pages and Instagram profiles.

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Akvile DeFazio is the President of AKvertise, a social media advertising agency. She specializes in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter Ads. Follow @AkvileDeFazio