Facebook told advertisers on Wednesday that the platform’s political ad blackout would continue for a month after the elections to avoid confusion about the election results as votes are still being counted.
Political ad buyers are frustrated because Georgia has no exception to the ongoing U.S. Senate runoff election. This runoff election will take place on January 5th. Buyers anticipate that candidates will miss out on millions in potential fundraisers due to the inability to advertise.
“This is what advertisers can expect [ad blackout] for another month, although there may be an opportunity to resume these ads earlier, ”Facebook spokeswoman Elana Widmann said in a statement to Adweek.
“Although several sources have forecast a presidential winner, we still believe it is important to avoid confusion or abuse on our platform,” Facebook representatives told advertisers in an email received from Adweek.
Facebook announced in October that it would temporarily suspend US political ads on its platform after polls closed on election night. Guy Rosen, a vp of the Integrity of Facebook, initially said the policy was passed in order to “reduce the possibility of confusion or abuse” at crucial moments after the election.
But while the blackouts continue to rumble, they are causing dismay among buyers and activists of political advertisements over the two Georgia Senate runoffs, according to the minutes report earlier this week. Neither company has committed to making an exception for these races, according to several buyers from both sides of the aisle surveyed for this item.
“We have no reason to believe that any exceptions will be made to this,” said Jake Sticka, vice president of customer strategy at liberal digital strategy firm Rising Tide Interactive. “This is a ham-and-mouth approach from Facebook that allows only disinformation and weakens the ability of legitimate campaigns and nonprofits to connect with the American people before runoff elections and year-end fundraising deadlines.”
He added, “If Facebook really cared about it, they could come up with a policy regarding information from the president, exempting the Georgia runoff and other charitable activities.”
Google also introduced a similar political ad blackout. However, the search giant has not yet given advertisers any guidance on when to resume resumption of these ads.
It is “not an exaggeration to say that [Senate candidates Rafael] Warnock and [Jon] Ossoff missed eight fundraising numbers because he hasn’t advertised since election day, ”said a liberal political ad buyer. That buyer told Adweek that they were working on a separate election for later in 2021 and that Facebook is also asking for an exception to promote that separate election.
Facebook’s language regarding this decision, as well as the limitations of this policy, have also been criticized. “Of course they themselves sow distrust by questioning the outcome of the election,” said Madeline Kriger, integrated media director at Priorities USA, a liberal PAC. “Not to mention that they could of course ban selected advertisements – for example about the presidential election or advertisements claiming victory for a candidate – but not.”
In the past few days, President Donald Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud and has falsely claimed victory in the presidential election. In its email to buyers, Facebook noted that it had sent notifications and attached labels to certain posts stating that Joe Biden is the proposed election winner.
“If Facebook and Google really can’t review Georgia Senate ads and run them safely without opening the floodgates to paid disinformation on their platforms, it’s a bloody charge against their own business model,” said Nicole Gill , Executive director of the liberal group Accountable Tech. “It is actively detrimental to democracy to prevent campaigns from running ads to inform Georgians about how and why to vote in these critical runoffs.”