Facebook page posting campaign material appeared to be official; county says it wasn’t

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. - Just as you can expect to see the fall colors appear, election signs follow close behind.

But beyond the typical yard signs, Facebook ads are also spreading election information, some of it real, some of it not.

In Monroe County, a post promoting a local candidate came from what appeared to be a county page, but a county attorney said in an email to the election board that it wasn't official, and it's unclear who started the page.

“It's not as clear as it should be, where exactly its coming from," Scott Shackelford said of Facebook pages and ads in general.

Shackelford is the Chair of Indiana University's Bloomington Cyber Security Program. "To their credit, Facebook has made some efforts to help show some additional transparency,” he said.

While Shackelford says Facebook has taken steps to stop fake political ads on Facebook, it’s still a work in progress.

“As we saw in 2016, foreign adversaries in particular are pretty sophisticated when it comes to foreign politics," Shackelford said. "They know what the swing states are, they know what the swing counties are, and it's not just the presidential election, clearly, that they care about anymore.”

While this issue on a local level is not quite as sophisticated, experts say it’s a reminder to only follow pages you can trust.

Shackelford says there are ways to find out where an advertisement came from.

"Facebook has been rolling out ways to make this a little more simple," Shackelford said. "There's a little "i" icon for example on some of these ads, and if you click on that you get some of the same information you would if it was a television ad....That's not always the case, but they are doing more with that.”

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