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Facebook bans foreign-funded campaign ads for Indonesian election


Jakarta – Facebook has temporarily banned political ads purchased from outside Indonesia in an effort to combat foreign interference in the country’s upcoming election.

The restriction, which took effect on Tuesday, targets any ad that references politicians or political parties or attempts to encourage or suppress voting, Facebook said in a statement.

“Combating foreign interference is a key pillar of our approach to safeguarding election integrity on our platform,’’ the social network said.

Incumbent President, Joko Widodo, faces former Gen. Prabowo Subianto in the April 17 election – a repeat of the 2014 vote, which was marked by divisive and religiously-charged campaigning.

In February, the Russian embassy in Jakarta denied the country was interfering in the Indonesian election after Joko accused Prabowo’s camp of engaging in “Russian propaganda’’.

The opposition says that after five years in office, the president has a dismal economic record and is too cosy with China.

Facebook said it was using a mix of automated and human review to help it identify offending ads.

The company said it was setting up an operations centre in Singapore that focused on fighting false news, hates speech and election interference.

In January, the company removed more than 1,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts, accusing them of engaging in what it called coordinated inauthentic behaviour in Indonesia.

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