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Home / US / Facebook’s mistakes sparked concerns about long-term online political advertising blackouts

Facebook’s mistakes sparked concerns about long-term online political advertising blackouts

In particular, Democrats worry that the uncertain time frame for relaunching online advertising may hinder fundraising activities and voters’ awareness of possible runoff in the Senate of Georgia and Mississippi in January. Others pointed out that the policy will make it more difficult for election campaigns to raise pooled funds for recounting.

A Democratic agent associated with the Georgia Senate campaign asked Google representatives for advice on the state’s expected runoff advertising budget in January, but Google advised them not to “fully budget” this expenditure-triggering a “wake-up call.” According to people familiar with the matter, the party̵

7;s internal ban may extend into 2021.

“They implied that it would be a week or so, and [now] They no longer imply this and will use similar words indefinitely. Maddie Kriger, digital media director at Priorities USA (the main Democratic Super PAC), said that Facebook removed nearly 600 pre-approved ads this week. “It’s great there. [could] When an election occurs, we cannot communicate with the voters around us. “

An official of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee also said that after the initial impression that the ban was short-term, the tech giants have been “deliberately obscuring” when to relaunch new political ads.

Scott Fairchild, Executive Director of DSCC, said in a statement shared with POLITICO: “We are deeply concerned that at this late hour, when and how to resume political advertising is still unknown. They have the responsibility to interact with candidates, campaigns and Its users, we hope to get a reply immediately.”

Representatives of Facebook and Google said that their political advertising ban is temporary.

A Facebook spokesperson said in an email statement: “Our intention is to block politics and publish advertisements for a short period of time.” “As part of our efforts to protect the integrity of this election, we temporarily ban the election. Create any new political and distribution advertisements within the last week of the election, and ban all political and distribution advertisements immediately after the election.”

In early October, Facebook product manager Sarah Schiff told reporters that after the voting on November 3, all “social issues, elections, and political advertising” were suspended. “Advertisers can expect this to continue. One week, so there may be changes. We will notify advertisers after the cancellation of this policy, “They will temporarily stop these ads after the election to reduce the chance of confusion or abuse.”

For Google, its “sensitive events” policy (which will begin after the election day is closed and prevent advertisers from being able to run advertisements referencing candidates or elections) has also been deployed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, initially preventing cooperation with Covid Related activities prevent misleading and price fraudulent advertisements. In the end, Google allowed advertisements around the coronavirus to start.

Google spokesperson Charlotte Smith (Charlotte Smith) said: “In view of the possibility of postponement of this year’s election results, when the poll ends on November 3, we will suspend advertisements citing the 2020 election, candidates or their results. “”This is a temporary measure. We will notify advertisers after we cancel this policy.”

However, because there is no set deadline, some digital consultants are now privately speculating that the tech giants may be trying to get rid of the overall situation of political advertising because they are facing public relations headaches and concerns about online misinformation. At a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday, both sides were deeply angry with large technology companies. Senator Ted Cruz asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for his platform. Whether it has the “ability to influence elections.” When Dorsey said no, Cruz shot back: “Why are you blocking anything?”

An anonymous candid Democratic digital strategist said, “People are totally worried that political advertising will be completely banned.” Another Republican digital consultant said he was “surprised” that they had not banned political advertising to “avoid headaches,” but “If it does, Congress may be more willing to regulate it.”

Eric Wilson, a Republican digital consultant, said: “Facebook and Google’s total ban on political advertising would be catastrophic.” “In general, they account for the vast majority of online advertising. This will make candidates, political The action committee was unable to participate and prevented advocacy groups from reaching voters.”

But Wilson pointed out in response to others, “Just looking at Facebook’s income from political advertising this year, if shareholders shut it out, it would be a serious malfeasance on behalf of shareholders.”

Ryan Alexander, a Democratic digital strategist, said: “I think Facebook ultimately likes to make money, and there is a lot of money in politics.”

After the blackout of pre-election advertising, Facebook was severely criticized by political groups and agents this week. The program arbitrarily removed pre-approved advertisements from its platform, thereby cutting off critical information with voters in the critical final days before the election.

A statement from Facebook to advertisers on Tuesday said: “We understand that some ads may appear to be suspended.” The statement has been shared with POLITICO. “As long as we resolve all data lag issues, any ads that meet the criteria for running in the final campaign can be run. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The consultant said that Facebook has not yet made it clear to advertisers the reasons for its removal and admitted to them that it was a “technical failure.” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that the platform is “investigating” the issue of “advertising being suspended by mistake” and that it is “resolving these issues quickly.” However, some consultants and groups said that they still face challenges in placing ads on the platform before Wednesday.

Facebook pointed out that although some ads may have been withdrawn due to technical issues, some ads may have been withdrawn due to “user error” not following its policies.

Before the start of the new advertising ban, campaigns and external groups scrambled to upload advertisements to Facebook’s system. Some of them try to foresee the future in order to be able to get closer to the election, including President Donald Trump’s advertisement for GDP data scheduled to be released on Thursday, or advertisements by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which encourage them after the vote. The voters are consistent.

However, many of these pre-loaded ads have been deleted.

Democratic digital adviser Annie Levene said: “This is really a bastard.” “We have been communicating with a group of voters to persuade or fight. [get-out-the-vote] Over the past few weeks, millions of dollars have been invested in them. When these advertisements disappear, we will lose the ability to communicate with these people, and we will lose precious time, even days. “

DSCC officials said that only one week before Election Day, “DSCC and some of its most competitive campaigns in Montana, North Carolina, and Texas have been banned from advertising,” “unresolved issues. As of Wednesday afternoon.” The official also pointed out that “incomplete policies” will have an impact on “fundraising and voter propaganda after November 3.”

From the presidential campaign to the state legislative elections, the influence of Facebook’s pre-election policy has been ongoing.

“In a state legislative contest with only 30,000 voters in a media market of more than one million, you can target [on Facebook], Republican adviser David Tackett said, “So losing this is a “problem.” He worked in the Oklahoma state legislature and saw some of his pre-approved ads being cancelled “Want to find out one week before the election that 15% to 20% of your budget cannot be used for your plan? It’s frustrating. “

A Republican working with major external groups said this is a “site-wide issue that affects everyone.” The insider said that at the same time, Facebook “is becoming darker to people.”

Both the Biden and Trump campaigns confirmed that they had removed pre-approved ads during the implementation of Facebook’s policy. But according to HuffPost, after the ban took effect on October 27, the Trump campaign also created new ads.

The campaign was able to create ads saying “Today is Election Day”, which violates Facebook’s recommendation that advertisers can only say “Vote on November 3” instead of “Vote today.” Facebook deleted most of the new ads after contacting new contacts. The website reported on HuffPost.

In the past two years, the political digital advertising ecosystem has faced tremendous turbulence. At the end of 2019, Google restricted the targeting options of political advertisers on its platform. Facebook refused to take the same measures earlier this year, but in the summer, Facebook offered individual users the option of not watching political ads at all.

Twitter is a smaller player in the digital advertising space. It completely banned political advertising at the end of 2019, and Adobe followed suit on its advertising platform throughout the summer. At the time, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg) admitted that he had also considered banning political advertising completely, but chose not to do so, noting that his platform “will make a difference in expressiveness.” “.

Digital strategists united and called for more clarity from the technology platform.

GOP consultant Tim Cameron said: “For the benefit of both parties, please make basic rules and then retain these basic rules in the general election.” “You think they can tell us about how they are in the first quarter of this year. Information to deal with this matter.”

Cameron said: “They are trying to solve the problem from 2016 to 2020.”

Steven Overly contributed the report.

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