In a recent blog post and email sent to political advertisers, Facebook revealed that it had lifted its ban on political ads. The ban was introduced after the November 6 election, when the country was plunged into a period of political maneuvering, and Facebook was under fire for the false and incendiary ads of some advertisers that appeared on the influential social media platform. Facebook explained the change, “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 authorization and transparency, not just for political and electoral ads, but also for social issue ads, and our systems do not distinguish between these categories. We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle. 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.”
Why Is Facebook Reversing The Ban On Political Ads?
Facebook underwent tremendous scrutiny for the way many believe the platform handled misinformation about the 2016 presidential election and candidates. Since then, Facebook has spent a lot of money and expended a lot of goodwill to try and root out endemic issues and gain back the trust of the public, 36% of whom get their news from Facebook. The political ad ban was one very public way for Facebook to extract themselves from the narrative around political influence.
However, many saw the political ad ban as going too far, particularly because well-funded campaigns could just take their advertising elsewhere and still have tremendous reach. Realistically, Facebook was in a no-win situation and had to act decisively. But, now that all major elections are settled and in the past, for this year anyway, Facebook is dipping its toe back in the water, with a caveat about evolving changes to political ads in the future.
Should Political Campaigns Advertise With Facebook?
Yes, if it’s effective for the campaign. Facebook should resume being part of multichannel advertising strategies for campaigns, if the social media platform provides the right kind of engagement and conversions. But, it is essential for campaigns to be diversified so the policy changes of a specific platform cannot cause undue influence. A variety of channels and social platforms is critical for most successful campaigns to engage an increasingly diverse voter base and be prepared should Facebook decide again to ban political ads.
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