Tuesday, June 22

Facebook extends ban on political ads amid election falsehoods: memo

  • Facebook and Google extended a ban on political ads in an effort to stem disinformation.
  • In a memo to political ad buyers obtained by Business Insider, Facebook said the ban could be expected to last another month “to help prevent confusion or abuse on our platform” regarding the presidential election.
  • Although Joe Biden has largely been declared the winner, Donald Trump and Republican supporters are contesting the results and pushing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud on Facebook and other platforms.
  • The continuing ban on political ads is also causing problems for congressional candidates in Georgia, where runoff elections for the state’s two US Senate seats are set for January 5.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook and Google quietly extended their ban on political ads as Donald Trump and his supporters continue to cast doubt on election results and flood social platforms with misinformation.

Facebook is extending its political ad ban for another month to “help prevent confusion or abuse on our platform,” the company said Wednesday in a memo to political ad buyers obtained by Business Insider. Google confirmed to the Financial Times its political ad ban would remain in effect. However, neither company offered an end date on the ad ban.

Both companies banned political advertisements in the week following Election Day to stymie candidates’ preemptive claims of victory and crack down on voting misinformation. However, the ban doesn’t apply to public posts, and Donald Trump and his supporters have flooded social platforms with unsubstantiated allegations of stolen elections and rigged results showing Joe Biden as the winner.

But the extended ban may have further implications on the ongoing fight for power in the US Senate, as the winners of two key seats in Georgia will not be decided until runoff elections set for January 5. The ban means that candidates are unable to reach potential voters on Facebook, which Democrats say could inhibit their candidates’ abilities to raise money and get their message out to the public. In both races, Democratic candidates are challenging incumbent Republicans.

The result is “little more than voter suppression,” said Mark Jablonowski, a managing partner at Democratic ad agency DSPolitical.

“Ad bans help politicians already in power and hurt those seeking change. In this case, Facebook and Google have put their thumb on the scale against two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in Georgia runoff races where African American voters could end up deciding the fate of the U.S. Senate majority,” Jablonowski told Business Insider. “This stifling of free speech amounts to little more than voter suppression. We call on these companies to quit hindering the ability of Democrats to reach voters in these critical runoff elections.”

Facebook confirmed to Business Insider it had extended its ban on political ads, though said there could be a chance to “resume these ads sooner.”

In the memo to political ad buyers, Facebook said it would continue the ad ban although “multiple sources have projected a presidential winner” in Biden.

Read the memo Facebook sent to political ad buyers:

Given the ongoing conversation about the US presidential election, we’re continuing to temporarily pause all social issues, electoral or political ads in the US. While multiple sources have projected a presidential winner, we still believe it’s important to help prevent confusion or abuse on our platform.

Advertisers can expect this temporary pause to last another month, though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner.

We will notify you when this pause is lifted.

At the same time, we remain committed to connecting people with reliable information and to reducing the spread of misinformation about the election. We built the largest third-party fact-checking network of any platform with 80 partners around the world, and they remain actively focused on claims about the election, including conspiracy theories. We continue to inform people and reduce the distribution of content that has been fact-checked to ensure fewer people see false information.

We updated our notifications running across the top of Facebook and Instagram to show that Joe Biden is the projected winner of the US election and we are applying similar labels on all presidential candidates’ posts. We’re also continuing to attach labels with factual statements about the integrity of the election when candidates or parties post organic content that discuss issues of legitimacy of the election or include claims that lawful methods of voting like mail-in ballots will lead to fraud.

As a reminder, in the interim, you can:

  • Continue the conversation: You can still get your message out through organic posts on Facebook and Instagram, even if they are about social issues, elections or politics, as long as they adhere to our Community Standards.
  • Get ready for the future: If you are expecting to run ads about social issues, elections or politics after the temporary pause ends, you can reconfirm if your authorizations and disclaimers are active at Facebook.com/id. If you have not yet completed these steps, you can still confirm your identity and location and submit disclaimers for approval during this time.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Work at Facebook or have a tip about the company? Reach out to Paige Leskin at pleskin@businessinsider.com or @paigeleskin on Twitter. You can also reach her more securely on Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (201) 312-4526. You can also contact Patrick Coffee on Signal at (347) 563-7289, email at pcoffee@businessinsider.com or patrickcoffee@protonmail.com, or via Twitter DM @PatrickCoffee

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