Facebook to Require Verified Identities for Future Political Ads

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Friday announced a series of moves meant to improve the transparency of political ads and pages on its social media service. The changes came just days before Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, is to testify before Congress.

Mr. Zuckerberg said in a post that the company has started requiring advertisers to verify their identity and location before they can run political ads on Facebook. That verification is meant to prevent foreign interference in elections, like the paid posts by so-called Russian trolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Zuckerberg added that he supported a proposed Senate bill, the Honest Ads Act, that would require such disclosures.

Facebook will also soon start verifying the identify and location of people who run large Facebook pages, Mr. Zuckerberg said. Officials say Russian agents used pages to pose as Americans on different sides of the political spectrum in an attempt to spread misinformation before the election.

“These steps by themselves won’t stop all people trying to game the system. But they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in his post.

After playing down problems with the site for months, Facebook has begun to make changes after revelations that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

The company recently removed 270 accounts associated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the so-called troll factory that spread misinformation amid the election. Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, gave several lengthy interviews to reporters this week.

Mr. Zuckerberg himself spent an hour taking questions from reporters this week and he agreed to testify before Congress next week.