Because of the Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Facebook and Twitter are now requiring individuals buying advertising for social media posts that Facebook or Twitter deem as political to certify. It’s not like I’ve being buying thousands of dollars in advertising. It’s not as if my blog’s audience could have any effect on the national narrative on controversial topics. But nonetheless, for $5 advertisements that I buy when I skip a Starbucks trip, or two, I’ve been forced to “verify” myself with Facebook and Twitter.
To keep things simple and because I’m not your typical American voter, I started with Facebook. It wasn’t that Facebook was easier, more accessible or because I get more out of Facebook then Twitter. I started with Facebook because it just happened to be on when I decided to go through the verification process.
What Facebook wanted was for me to prove that I’m a real human being. It wanted to know that I was who I said I was. I provided a copy of my driver’s license and my current home address. PO boxes and business addresses are not acceptable.
Facebook also wanted to know in which country I lived. Apparently, there are different restrictions and requirements for each country. I live in the United States.
To verify my country and my physical address, I provided my driver’s license and home address. Both had to match. I also was asked to provide the last four digits of my social security number. Facebook tells you that they use a “third-party” verification service for identity. There are plenty of commercial services that match driver’s licenses, addresses and the last four digits of a social security number and either issue a “valid” or “invalid” response to Facebook, in this case.
As an aside, I fully expect to soon be bombarded with political donation requests and issue-based mailings because I’m now in a database tagged as someone politically active with a verified U.S. address. The funny thing is going to be that I can’t vote, as I’m not a U.S. citizen and thus I’m not sure how effective the upcoming promos are going to be.
I then needed to prove that I lived where I said I lived, although my driver’s license had the same address as my home address. I verified my address by waiting for a letter addressed to me.
The letter, supposedly, proves I live there because, presumably, the postal service doesn’t make mistakes, does not misdeliver mail, or someone gave me the letter after it was delivered. You can see the obvious weaknesses in the process just by these examples. There are many more.
Nonetheless, I live there and thus the mail made it to me and I dutifully entered my code.
But, had I been a bad actor, I can easily “pass” the process through identity theft or just paying someone to be my surrogate face on Facebook.
After entering my code, I was asked to verify the disclaimer my advertising will carry.
Easy, “paid for by Martin Paredes.”
The process took about a week to complete.
This whole rigmarole is the result of the Russians interfering in foreign elections.
But, I’m now “certified” to run “political or national issues” advertising on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I know that the certification will do nothing for keeping the Russians or other bad actors from influencing elections in the future.
Will my $5 advertising, or my blog, for that matter, change the national dialog?
Not likely, but every voice must count when it comes to national issues in every country.
Now that I’m “certified” on Facebook for political advertising I’ll go through the Twitter process. I’ll report on that one when the process is completed.