Hard Brexit Group Show Facebook Political Ad Rules Need Work

On the face of it, Facebook's new rules on political advertising were supposed to bring in an era of transparency. If an ad was political, it would show who funded it. The only problem with that is, who's funding the guy who funded it?

That's the inevitable question that comes from Facebook releasing figures which show that since October last year when the new rules were brought in, Britain's Future is by far the platform's biggest political advertiser. The Guardian points out that the GBP340,000 it has spent is more than all the main political parties put together. 

We know this because of the new rules, and yet we still don't actually know who is really paying for the ads on Facebook and Instagram. We also don't know the value of any advertising the group, which is campaigning for a hard Brexit, is spending on Google search and other sites. Google is planning to bring in more transparent political advertising for May's EU Parliamentary elections.

So the question remains: who is Britain's Future? The group appears to be rather "obscure," as The Guardian puts it. The main guy appears to be a sitcom writer, raising the question mark of where the money is really coming from. His answer, apparently, is that it's due to Brexit supporting "friends."

It's a question well worth asking, because not only does it shine a light on how inadequate the new Facebook rules are, it reminds us all that it is the Leave side of Brexit campaigning that was found guilty of breaking electoral law over pooling of finances to coordinate ad campaigns from Vote Leave and Leave.EU who were supposedly separate groups. 

All that Britain's Future would need to do, to register for political advertising, is provide proof of a UK address, and then they're off. There is no inspection on where the money is coming from -- and, let's not forget that the Leave side of the argument has some big guns pumping in money that nobody is too sure about the true of.

Arron Banks, for example, has come under investigation at Channel 4 recently looking to prove Russian links, but all the broadcaster seems able to allege is that Banks was interested in Russian deals that didn't come off. American readers may well hear a "sounds familiar" klaxon ringing in their ears as they read this.

So the transparency provided by Facebook and Instagram simply opens up another question that remains obscure. A group has come out of nowhere to be, by far, the country's biggest political advertiser, and the only thing we know about them is what they're called. 

You can also hear Jerry Maguire screaming at the social giant to "Show me the money," not just a name. 

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