Political advertising on Facebook creating 'inequalities'
As more and more political parties advertise on Facebook to reach out to maximum number of voters, the practice is creating new types of inequalities for campaigners and, in turn, posing new set of challenges for the regulators, warn researchers.
 
Traditional campaigning regulations are based on the theory that spending by each political party leads to a similar result.
 
For example, if political parties spent the same amount on leaflets, the literature would reach a similar number of people.
 
However, this cannot apply to Facebook advertising where the impact is dependent on the audience the advertiser wants to reach, argues Katharine Dommett from the University of Sheffield and Sam Power from the University of Exeter.
 
"This means different spend will have different results. Adverts in a marginal constituency will be more expensive, as will adverts that are directed at an audience that is in high demand from advertisers," the researchers said in a paper published in the journal Political Quarterly.
 
For example, in India, even before elections were announced, in February itself, Facebook had run over 51,000 political ads in India worth more than Rs 10 crore and Google declared 800 ads bought for Rs 3.6 crore.
 
"As digital political campaigning grows, it is now increasingly difficult for existing regulators to capture the true extent of what is happening online, let alone whether these practices violate democratic norms," suggested Dommett.
 
The unreliability of existing data on the use of Facebook needs to be acknowledged by regulators if campaigning spending is to be effectively interpreted and understood.
 
The findings showed that regulation must also take into account how Facebook algorithms mean the same advertising spend has different results.
 
"Although Facebook has introduced some new transparency measures, nobody can fully monitor both how it is being used by political parties and the inequalities of access they can face," said Power.
 
It is also not Facebook's role to regulate elections.
 
"We need to recognise these limitations to think about whether and how existing reporting requirements need to change," Power added.
 
Regulators around the world need to think about how to monitor and respond to spending principles that are creating inequalities in the electoral market place.
 
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    Saudi Fugitives Accused of Serious Crimes Get Help to Flee While US Officials Look the Other Way
    The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have known for years that Saudi diplomats were helping Saudi fugitives. But Washington avoided even raising the problem out of concern that it might hurt Saudi cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
     
    The government of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly helped Saudi citizens evade prosecutors and the police in the United States and flee back to their homeland after being accused of serious crimes here, current and former U.S. officials said.
     
    The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have been aware of the Saudi actions for at least a decade, officials said. But successive American administrations have avoided confronting the government in Riyadh out of concern that doing so might jeopardize U.S. interests, particularly Saudi cooperation in the fight against Islamist terrorism, current and former officials said.
     
    “It’s not that the issue of Saudi fugitives from the U.S. wasn’t important,” said retired FBI agent Jeffrey Danik, who served as the agency’s assistant legal attache in Riyadh from 2010 to 2012. “It’s that the security relationship was so much more important. On counterterrorism, on protecting the U.S. and its partners, on opposing Iran, the Saudis were invaluable allies.”
     
    American officials said Saudi diplomats, intelligence officers and other operatives have assisted in the illegal flight of Saudi fugitives, most of them university students, after they were charged with crimes including rape and manslaughter. The Saudis have bailed the suspects out of jail, hired lawyers to defend them, arranged their travel home and covered their forfeited bonds, the officials said.
     
    A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Fahad Nazer, said that only “a small fraction” of Saudi students in the United States have gotten into legal trouble, and that Saudi officials have “strictly adhered to all U.S. laws” in helping them. “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is simply not true,” he said. He did not respond to questions about how a series of Saudi students had managed to return home while facing criminal charges in the United States.
     
    The Trump administration has deflected calls for an accounting of the Saudi government’s role in the flight of fugitives, asserting that there is little the United States can do because it has no extradition treaty with the kingdom. This week, the State Department said for the first time that it has raised the issue with senior Saudi officials, but it would not specify when or how. Continue Reading...
     
    This story was co-published with The Oregonian/OregonLive.
     
     
     
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    COMMENTS

    Anil Kumar

    4 months ago

    An honest feedback. This article doesn't have any relevance to financial crimes / issues that you normally focus on. Why carry?

    What Happens When Judges in South Carolina Police Themselves In Secret? Not Much
    Over the past two decades, more than 1,000 ethics complaints have been lodged against South Carolina judges who handle the state’s major cases in circuit court.
     
    Beyond mere courtroom disputes, the complaints contain serious concerns about abuse of office, including allegations of influence peddling or judges mishandling conflicts of interest.
    The number of judges punished publicly as a result: zero.
     
    A judicial ethics watchdog created in 1997 is supposed to aggressively monitor misconduct on the bench. But instead, the system run largely by judges shields the accused and buries complaints, an investigation by The Post and Courier and ProPublica found.
     
    The Commission on Judicial Conduct shares its work with no one — not even complainants, who receive brief letters telling them when a case has been closed. In thin annual reports, it acknowledges the number of complaints and the type of alleged offenses, but it offers no details.
     
    Unlike in other states, including South Carolina’s neighbors, it’s nearly impossible for the public to know how seriously allegations against the state’s judges are taken.
     
    The leniency results from one of the most insular systems in the country for selecting and disciplining judges, who hold unusual political connections in South Carolina. The state legislature chooses who sits on the bench, a provision of the state constitution dating to the 1890s that was part of segregationist U.S. Sen. Ben Tillman’s agenda to disenfranchise African Americans.
    Only one other state, Virginia, allows lawmakers to elect judges.
     
    Lawmakers filled many of the openings with their fellow legislators, including several who sat on the state Supreme Court. The high court is in charge of the bench’s ethical oversight, but it has skirted the practices of virtually every other state to stack the Commission on Judicial Conduct with judges.
     
    Year after year, they reject any punishment of their colleagues.
     
    Elsewhere, judicial discipline has erupted in major scandal, with judges in other states removed from the bench or sentenced to prison. Legal experts say more minor punishments of less egregious offenses help stem unethical behavior. Continue Reading
     
    This article was produced in partnership with The Post and Courier, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.
     
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    COMMENTS

    AAR

    4 months ago

    In right wing countries, Judiciary, the last bastion of justice, is crumbling.

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