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December 4, 2020

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Facebook Maintains Pause on Political and Social Issue Ads in the US in the Wake of the US Election

2 min read

With the official vote counting and certification process still underway after the US Presidential Election, Facebook has announced that it will maintain its current pause on ads about politics and social issues in the US, likely for at least another month, as part of its ongoing efforts to protect the election.

Facebook initially announced that it would halt all new social issue, electoral and political ads in the US from November 4th, in the final lead-up to the poll. Facebook provided no time frame for this suspension, and with much discussion still swirling around the election, and debate over the specific results, Facebook has opted to stand firm for now, in order to avoid any further potential complications.

Those complications could be false claims of victory, which, if such ads were allowed, could be promoted across The Social Network. Facebook wants no part in amplifying unfounded claims, which is why it’s opted to stand pat, and keep the ruling in place.

But that will have some impacts – as noted by Facebook’s Rob Leathern:

“We know that people are disappointed that we can’t immediately enable ads for runoff elections in Georgia and elsewhere. It’s taken years to build the infrastructure that supports the Facebook Ad Library and ensure that political ads are transparent. We do not have the technical ability in the short term to enable political ads by state or by advertiser, and we are also committed to giving political advertisers equal access to our tools and services.”

Indeed, having the capacity to run Facebook ads would be a big help in these run-off polls, but as Leathern notes, it’s not possible for Facebook to make specific exceptions by smaller regions within the US, and the back-end work it would take to implement such means that it would take too long for it to be viable for these polls.

The results of the Presidential election are still being contested by the current Trump Administration, despite the weight of evidence showing a clear victory for Joe Biden in the poll. The Trump team has vowed to challenge the results through any legal means available, and explore accusations of voter fraud, which could extend the certification period, after which the next steps will be clear.

That’s likely when Facebook will be able to comfortably lift its restrictions on political ads – but when, exactly, that will be is impossible to predict at this stage.

You can read more about Facebook’s ongoing election integrity regulations here.




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