Facebook will launch new tools next month to help prevent foreign interference in the European Parliament elections later in the year and make political advertising on the platform more transparent.

It is also setting up a number of new operations centres focused on election integrity, including one at its international headquarters in Dublin to better coordinate the work in the final weeks before the European Parliament elections.

In a blog post, the company's Public Policy Elections manager for Europe, Anika Geisel, said advertisers will need to be authorised before purchasing political ads.

She said far more information about the ads themselves will also be made available for people to see, including the identity of who is responsible for paying for them. 

A searchable library of ads will also be established, which will include data on the ad's performance, as well as the age, gender and location of those who saw it.

The tools will cover not only campaign ads, but also issue related ads that do not refer to a particular party or candidate. 

Facebook has been under increasing pressure since it emerged that foreign operatives tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election and other significant electoral contests in other countries. 

The company has since introduced a range of new measures to try to address the issue and during the 2018 referendum here on the eighth amendment to the constitution it banned ads from foreign groups seeking to influence the outcome. 

"While the vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organisations, we know that there are bad actors that try to misuse our platform," said Ms Geisel. 

"While we are pleased with the progress we've made in the countries where we have rolled out our ads transparency tools, we understand that they will not prevent abuse entirely.

"We're up against smart and well-funded adversaries who are adapting and changing their tactics, just as we are getting better at preventing abuse."

"But we believe that this higher level of transparency is good for democracy and is good for the electoral process," she added. 

The new operations centre in Dublin will, according to Facebook, further strengthen its co-ordination and rapid response capabilities and allow its global teams to better work across regions. 

It will include a cross section of technical experts from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram and will work with lawmakers, election commissions, fact-checkers, researchers, academics and civil society groups.

It will also work with teams at its headquarters in California and elsewhere in Europe, to add a layer of defence against false news and misinformation, hate speech, voter suppression and election interference.

Facebook's recently-appointed head of global affairs Nick Clegg told a news conference today that the company will require those wanting to run political and issue ads to be authorised.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's recently-appointed head of global affairs

"We will display a 'paid for by' disclaimer on those ads," Nick Clegg said. 

Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister hired by Facebook in October last year, said the new tools to be launched in late March aim to help protect the integrity of European Union elections due to be held this spring.

Facebook said that the transparency tools for electoral ads would be expanded globally before the end of June, while the tools would be in launched in India in February before its elections and in Ukraine and Israel before polls in both.

The tools are similar to those adopted for the US mid-term elections, Clegg said, adding that all political ads will be stored in a publicly searchable library for up to seven years. 

This will contain information such as the amount of money spent and the number of impressions displayed, who paid for them and the demographics of those who saw them, including age, gender and location.

Clegg also denied today that Facebook sells users' data. 

"Selling people's information to advertisers would not only be the wrong thing to do, it would undermine the way we do business, because it would reduce the unique value of our service to advertisers," he said.