Facebook missteps stoke fears of long political ad blackout online - POLITICO
Oct 29, 2020 2 mins, 42 secs

Campaigns and groups worry they won't be able to run ads on Google or Facebook for post-Nov.

Facebook, which is headed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, drew sharp criticism from political groups and operatives this week after initiating its pre-election ad blackout.

When Facebook and Google announced plans to ban new political ads around the end of the election, they left one key thing out of the new policies: an end date.

“They went from implying it would be a week or so, and [now] they’ve stopped implying that and they are using the words like indefinitely,” said Maddie Kriger, director of digital media at Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC that had nearly 600 pre-approved ads taken down by Facebook this week.

Representatives of Facebook and Google said that their political ad bans were temporary.

“Our intention is to block political and issue ads only for a short period of time,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“As part of our efforts to protect the integrity of this election, we are temporarily blocking the creation of any new political and issue ads during the final week of the election and all political and issue ads in the election’s immediate aftermath.".

3, “advertisers can expect this to last for a week, so this is subject to change and we will notify advertisers when this policy is lifted,” noting that they are “temporarily stopping these ads after the election to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse.”.

“Given the likelihood of delayed election results this year, when polls close on November 3, we will pause ads referencing the 2020 election, the candidates, or its outcome,” said Charlotte Smith, a spokeswoman for Google.

A Democratic digital strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly, said there’s an “extreme level of concern that political ads are going to be banned outright.” Another Republican digital consultant said he’s “surprised” they haven’t already banned political ads to “avoid the headache,” but “if they do, Congress will probably be more willing to regulate them.”.

“A total ban on political advertising by Facebook and Google would be catastrophic,” said Eric Wilson, a GOP digital consultant who worked on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“Ultimately, I think Facebook likes to make money and there’s lots of money in politics,” said Ryan Alexander, a Democratic digital strategist.

But Facebook has not yet given advertisers any clarity about what caused the removals, acknowledging to them that it was a “technical glitch,” consultants said.

“This is a clusterfuck,” said Annie Levene, a Democratic digital consultant.

A DSCC official said that “just one week out” from Election Day, “the DSCC, along with several of its most competitive campaigns in Montana, North Carolina and Texas were blocked from running ads,” issues that “still hadn’t been resolved as of Wednesday afternoon.” The official also noted that the “poorly defined policy” has “implications for both fundraising and voter outreach after Nov.

“In a state legislative race that only has 30,000 voters in a media market of more than a million, you can micro-target [on Facebook], so to lose that” is “problematic,” said David Tackett, a Republican consultant who works on a slate of state legislative races in Oklahoma and saw some of his pre-approved ads pulled.


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