With the 2020 US presidential elections taking place this year, the role of social media has come into even sharper focus. The result is that sites like Twitter have chosen to ban political ads on its platform, amid fears of misinformation spreading.
Unfortunately Facebook does not share the same sentiment, and the platform has chosen to continue to allow political ads on its site in what it calls a “warts and all” approach to the issue.
Facebook’s director of product management, Robert Leathern, addressed this recently in a blog post noting that, “In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”
“This does not mean that politicians can say whatever they like in advertisements on Facebook. All users must abide by our Community Standards, which apply to ads and include policies that, for example, ban hate speech, harmful content and content designed to intimidate voters or stop them from exercising their right to vote,” he adds.
As such it appears as if Facebook is taking more of a hands-off approach when it comes to political ads, despite the platform coming under scrutiny for allows ads on the platform that were knowingly misleading or contained false information.
This echoes the thoughts on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who does not think it is the site’s role to censor politicians and is quite happy for people to make up their own minds on such matters.
Along with confirming Facebook’s stance on the matter, Leathern explained some of the new advertiser and user features that will be rolled out in coming days and weeks.
To that end the company’s Ad Library tool, which launched in 2018, has added the ability to view audience sizes, search, filter and create custom audiences, which we’re sure advertisers wanting to target their ads will be happy to hear about.
To offer some respite, and at the very least look unbiased, Facebook is also planning to roll out tools that allow users to see less political and social issue ads. As for whether the ads they do see will be misleading or contain false information, remains to be seen.
Either way it looks like Facebook is quite happy to take political ad money and distance itself from the debate surrounding the spread of misinformation.