Today the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda of the Kyrgyz Republic (CEC) had an online meeting with the representatives of Facebook. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the publication of political ads its labeling and determination of the source of payment on Facebook. The online meeting of the CEC with Facebook representatives was organized by the UNDP office in the Kyrgyz Republic.
The meeting was attended by Ms. Nurzhan Shaildabekova, the Chairwoman of the CEC, Ms. Gulnara Dzhurabayeva, the member of the CEC working group on information and campaigning and the head of the CEC information department Mr. Ruslan Izrekov. From the Facebook side, the meeting was attended by the Public Policy Manager Ms. Kavita Kanhi and the head of the Facebook election integrity department Ms. Natasha Jog. Ms. Yulia Shipilova, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor on Electoral Support, also participated in the meeting.
During the meeting Facebook representatives talked about their policy on the identification of users by the documentary evidence of identity proof, which allows to verify the identity of a person registered under a certain account.
All political ads are added to the Advertising Library related to public issues, elections or politics and are available on www.facebook.com/ads/library/report, at the top of this page Kyrgyzstan needs to be selected. At the moment, the library for Kyrgyzstan contains 879 ads for the total cost of USD 3,737. The library also displays the information about the individuals and parties who paid for the advertisement.
The CEC Chairwoman Ms. N. Shaildabekova highlighted the importance of cooperation with Facebook: “We greatly appreciate the start of our cooperation with the Facebook representatives. The measures taken by Facebook to verify the accounts which are the sources of political ads are an important contribution of Facebook to the integrity of the upcoming parliamentary elections. This offers an opportunity to track the transparency of the funding of political ads by a certain party or a candidate. Parties, in turn, can undergo the verification procedure which will help them to tackle fake accounts.”
The meeting between CEC and Facebook representatives has drawn wide attention among the media agencies and some have approached the CEC Chairwoman for an extensive interview.
“Social media continues to play an important role in the elections campaign. Due to the absence of the international standards regulating this issue, Facebook as a social network introduces its own policies to ensure transparency of funding of paid political ads and to provide voters full information on the sources of funding of such ads, which undoubtedly helps the voter to make his/her choice,” said Ms. Yulia Shipilova, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor on Electoral Support.
When asked by the Chairwoman of the CEC about the possibility to block advertising on the Facebook platform during the electoral silence days, following the example of a policy that will be applied during the presidential elections in the United States, the Facebook representatives said that this is a new policy, which at the moment is applied only for the U.S., but they are ready to review the request of Kyrgyzstan sent via official sources. The parties agreed to maintain further communication in resolving this issue, and also expressed gratitude to each other for the beginning of fruitful cooperation.