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Fri Feb 14, 2020, 01:42 PM

Facebook reverses on paid political messages that aren't ads

Source: Associated Press

Facebook reverses on paid political messages that aren’t ads

By BARBARA ORTUTAY and AMANDA SEITZ
February 14, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook decided Friday to allow a type of paid political message that had sidestepped many of the social network’s rules governing political ads, in a reversal that highlights difficulties tech companies and regulators have in keeping up with the changing nature of paid political messages.

Its policy change comes days after presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg exploited a loophole to run humorous messages promoting his campaign on the accounts of popular Instagram personalities followed by millions of younger people.

It used to be clearer what’s an ad and what isn’t — and thus what’s subject to disclosures and other rules. With social media, a campaign can pay celebrities and other influential users to spread a message on their behalf, without ever buying an ad and be subject to its rules.

“This is a new kind of activity that simply didn’t exist when the rules for internet political communications were last updated,” said Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub of the Federal Election Commission.

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Until Friday, Facebook tried to deter campaigns from using such branded content by barring them from using a tool designed to help advertisers run such posts on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Friday’s rule change will now allow campaigns in the U.S. to use this tool, provided they’ve been authorized by Facebook to run political ads and disclose who paid for the sponsored posts.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/86f306176a5e1043d2f825483e75f70d

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