Facebook Lifts Ban On Political Advertising In US

Facebook has resumed political advertising in the United States, after it placed a temporary ban in the lead up to the US Presidential elections in November last year.

The social networking giant made the admission in an update to a blog post on the matter on Wednesday this week.

Facebook had previously defended not banning misleading political adverts, but last year as the political atmosphere in the United States became increasingly fraught, the firm said it would stop accepting new political ads in the week before the US Election Day on 3 November, to reduce the risks of misinformation and election interference.

Political advertising

And just before the election itself, Facebook also confirmed it had temporarily stopped recommendations for all political groups and all new groups.

But now this moratorium on US political advertising has ended, which paves the way for adverts on Facebook by political campaigns as well as issue advertisers.

Facebook claimed it had made the change after receiving “a lot of feedback” on its approach to political advertising.

Its stance is in stark contrast to Twitter, which in November 2019 announced that it was permanently banning all political advertising worldwide.

“We’re resuming political, electoral and social issue ads in the United States on Thursday, 4 March,” said Facebook. “We put this temporary ban in place after the November 2020 election to avoid confusion or abuse following Election Day.”

“Unlike other platforms, we require authorisation and transparency not just for political and electoral ads, but also for social issue ads, and our systems do not distinguish between these categories,” it said.

“We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle,” it concluded. “As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.”

Google action

It should be noted that Facebook is not alone here in lifting its ban on political adverts.

Last week Google also lifted its similar ban on political advertising after it had designated the 2020 election as a sensitive event.

Google had lifted the political ad ban in December, but then re-imposed it on 14 January after the deadly storming of the US Capitol building on Wednesday 6 January by supporters of Donald Trump, that resulted in the deaths of five people – including one police officer who was beaten to death.

Facebook in January this year also confirmed it is also taking other steps to reduce the amount of political content on its platform.

The social networking giant announced last month that it would start displaying less political content in the News Feed of some users.

The test was initially rolled out in Brazil, Indonesia and Canada before being expanded to some US users.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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