Facebook has a new yet very old solution to fighting Russian manipulation attempts during future US elections: conventional mail. Global policy program director Katie Harbath has revealed that the social network will send postcards to verify the identities and locations of anyone hoping to buy ads related to federal-level candidates. Recipients will have to enter a code on the postcard to prove that they are, in fact, living in the US. The requirement won’t apply to state-level candidates or ads based around issues.
There’s no specific time frame for when the cards will take effect, but they should be in use before the 2018 mid-term elections in November.
Harbath acknowledged to Reuters that this “won’t solve everything.” A determined foreign manipulation effort could rely on US-based volunteers, for instance, and this won’t help if there are any plans to skew smaller votes. There’s also no mention of using this approach for other countries. However, this could thwart many ‘casual’ attempts at persuading voters from afar, and might help Facebook address politicians’ concerns that it isn’t doing enough to keep Russia from meddling in American politics.