Vice decided to test out Facebook's commitment to positively identifying the people and organizations behind political ads, so they applied for clearance to buy ads in the names of ever sitting US Senator, showing no proof, and Facebook granted permission in each case.
They didn't go on to buy ads, but if they had, those ads would have run with Facebook's standard "paid for" disclosures, as in "Paid For By Chuck Schumer."
It turns out that Facebook's new anti-fraudulent political ad measure operates on the honor system.
To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads "Paid for by" by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Facebook's approvals were bipartisan: All 100 sailed through the system, indicating that just about anyone can buy an ad identified as "Paid for by" by a major U.S. politician.
What's more, all of these approvals were granted to be shared from pages for fake political groups such as "Cookies for Political Transparency" and "Ninja Turtles PAC." VICE News did not buy any Facebook ads as part of the test; rather, we received approval to include "Paid for by" disclosures for potential ads.
We posed as 100 Senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them. [William Turton/Vice]