Social Platforms and Political Advertising Restrictions

With Election Day here, social platforms have taken a stance on whether or not they allowed political ads during this turbulent time. The platforms have been split into two groups: those who have completely banned these types of ads from their platforms and those who have allowed these ad types with restrictions.

The platforms that banned political ads include Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok since they believe that political ads do not mesh well with the platform experience since these platforms are mainly used for entertainment and professional development purposes. The platforms that have allowed political ads include Facebook, Snapchat, Reddit, and Google, however, pose restrictions for advertisers to prevent the spread of misinformation.

While the Google conglomerate has accepted political ads for the 2020 election across search, YouTube, and display, they will block all political ads after polls close on November 3 to prevent confusion surrounding the election since an unprecedented number of votes will be counted after election day this year due to the increase in mail-in ballots, a decision made to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also, Google has limited audience targeting to only target based on age, gender, general location, and postal code to limit granularity. Snap has implemented a “human” team responsible for reviewing and fact-checking political ads to ensure that all rules and regulations are being abided by. In addition, all political advertising on the platform must include a message that indicates who the ad is being “paid for by”. While Reddit also has a team of reviewers and fact-checkers, they are not allowing ads that are deceptive, untrue, or misleading. Also, all political ads are required to use a “link-post” format to allow the Reddit community to share and discuss the ad in the comment section of the ad. Any violation will result in the removal of the ad and continued violations may result in the restriction and suspension of certain domains and accounts.

After a very controversial year for Facebook due to pressure from regulators and civil rights groups, Facebook is finally cracking down to address misinformation on the platform concerning the election. While Facebook has accepted political ads, they are allowing users to choose whether-or-not they would like to be served these types of messages by giving them an opt-out option. The platform will also be rejecting all premature ads claiming victory and also put a halt to running new political ads a week before Election Day and indefinitely after election day to prevent any confusion and spread of misinformation across the masses. So far, Facebook has reported that they have taken down over 120,000 posts for violating its “voter interference policies” in addition to rejecting over 2.2 million ads due to the organizations behind them not being approved to run. Facebook has also ramped up its controversial fact-checking AI by partnering with 70 specialized media outlets to help verify the information is true and does not violate any of Facebooks policies.

While these restrictions will not affect non-political advertisers, they go to show the on-going efforts platforms are making to take a stance across the spread of misinformation. Following the 2016 election, Facebook was the center of all conversation due to Russian interference in the U.S. elections through the platform with over 470 counterfeit pages spewing misleading and deceitful hate speech which had been reportedly viewed by 10 million people. These ads were created to divide the vote in support of President Donald Trump. Thankfully, social platforms have learned from previous years and have adapted new technology and policies to prevent this from ever happening again. Moving forward, brands should not have to worry about their ads appearing next to political propaganda ads, and as a whole, brand safety should overall be improved.


Questions, Comments, and The Future

  1. Will social platforms see a decline in ad spend from brands as a result of election advertising in order to refrain from any brand safety issues?
  2. Do you use social media as a means of educating yourself in order to help inform your vote?
  3. Will the platforms that restrict political advertising adopt the practice of allowing political advertising in the future given the increasing popularity of social media as a tool for information?
  4. What new ways will those seeking to deliver misinformation find to thwart the social platforms algorithms?

#IgnitedPOV #2020Election #PoliticalAdvertising