Even Facebook, which allows political ads, can still ban them. Just for different reasons.
Facebook made a well-known decision to allow political ads, which led to a great deal of discussion. (By contrast, Twitter decided to ban them altogether.) Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has strongly defended his company’s policies. He argued that in a democracy, people should be able to see clearly what politicians are saying. That way they can make their own judgements.
Facebook’s decision raises many questions. These include whether it is even possible to allow political ads without opening the door to fake news and misinformation.
Election laws were written long before campaigns took to social media and started sending individually targeted posts and messages through sites like Twitter and Facebook. This can allow for more information—and more misinformation. People can learn about their candidates, but how much of what they learn is tainted and untrue? These are important issues about political advertisement on social media generally.
Independent Reasons to Ban Ads
However, sometimes there are independent reasons to ban ads.
Recently, the BBC gave Facebook an open and shut reason for banning a political ad by Britain’s conservative Tory party. The ad, which showcased some of the BBC’s popular presenters speaking about Brexit delays, upset the BBC. The BBC argued that the ad took the clips of its presenters out of context. It also said that it falsely made it appear as if the BBC supported the Tory party. Therefore, it argued, the ad could damage its impartiality, which is so essential to a news service.
Here’s why Facebook deleted the ad on time
Facebook deleted the ad, citing its violation of the BBC’s intellectual property rights. Facebook told the media that it will act in accordance with its policies and take required actions whenever it receives valid IP claims against content on its platform.
The Tory party argued that other political parties use BBC footage, and that it was being singled out by the BBC for IP enforcement of its Facebook ads.