Facebook has begun enforcing new political labeling rules for advertising. The rules are intended to help users determine which ads have political intentions. It appears that Facebook has penalized some companies for not meeting the new requirements, though the protocols seem to be broadly enforced, causing non-political ads to get caught in the advertising filter and causing concern among non-political advertisers.
Non-political ads usually include a simple “sponsored” label.
Facebook created the advertisement labeling rules following the 2016 election, in response to Russian-backed groups creating fake profiles to spread disinformation and influence U.S. voters. Many of the groups bought advertisements to gain access to broader audiences. Facebook has begun divulging the sources of all ads that run on the platform.
Under the new rules, Facebook has penalized Walmart and Procter & Gamble. The social media organization says it halted ads from those companies for being political without the “paid for by” label. Facebook stated, in an entry for each ad, "After the ad started running, we determined that the ad had political content and required the label. The ad was taken down."
A Proctor and Gamble spokeswoman expressed disappointment with Facebook’s decision. She denied that the ad was political and stated that P&G does not run political promotions. The spokeswoman said:
There was no immediate comment from Walmart.
The labeling policy for political ads worries non-political advertisers. However, it was inevitable that consumer goods and retail brands would be affected by Facebook’s labeling rules, too.
"Brands can easily get snagged in the political content filter. Almost everything is controversial."
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, discussed the implementation of the new rules: “There are delays now.”
Facebook’s new political labeling requirements are meant to make political ads transparent. The rules seem to be applied very broadly, also affecting non-political endorsements. The broad application of the protocols has caused concern among non-political advertisers; however, Facebook has decided to enforce the rules broadly to maximize transparency.
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