Facebook Cracks Down on Advertisers With the Impending Presidential Election

There’s no escaping it. The 2020 presidential election will be here before we know it. The debates have begun and you’ve probably already noticed ads popping up in your newsfeed. With the influx of political ads already hitting the masses, and given the unique impact of online political ads on consumers in the previous election year, Facebook has decided to take proper precautions this time around.

Though Facebook has already made some huge changes to their privacy protection policies and algorithms in the last few years, Facebook is bringing about a massive update on its ads policy for election season. This will obviously affect electoral advertisers everywhere, but it will also greatly impact anyone running ads related to political or social issues.

Facebook wants its audience to be aware of who is trying to influence their vote, and it’s their belief that advertisers shouldn’t be able to cover up who is paying for the ads being served. This will bring about more disclosure and authenticity in ads about social issues, elections, or politics.

As it stands, advertisers are already required to provide identification to prove who they are and where they are located, along with placing a “Paid for by” disclaimer to show who is responsible for funding the ad. Even though this policy is currently active, advertisers are still attempting to put misleading “Paid for by” disclaimers on ads. Herein drives the primary reason for Facebook’s most recent round of updates.

This is all well and good, but what exactly does it mean for advertisers? Read on for what to expect in the very near future.

Disclaimer Requirements for Ads

If you’re running ads for any political, electoral, or social issues (this can include anything ranging from the obvious – ads relating to the 2020 election – to the not-so-obvious, such as ads relating to economic issues, civil rights, guns, healthcare, and the like), there are some disclaimer requirements you’re going to want to know about. There are five options for providing more information about the ads you’re running, three of which provide advertisers with a way to show they are registered with the United States government.

  • Provide U.S. street address, phone number, business email, and a business website matching the email.
  • Tax-registered organization identification number (EIN)
  • A government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number.
  • There are four reasons here. Your previous sentence says there are only three politics-related ways to provide this info. Might revise.

When these government-related options are used, you will be allowed to use your registered organization name in the disclaimers, and the “i” icon (more on this in a minute) that appears in the upper right-hand corner of the ad will state, “Confirmed Organization.”

If you are a small business or local politician that doesn’t have the proper credentials stated above, you will still have the ability to run ads for your brand. You are given the following options:

  • Submit an organization name by providing a verifiable phone number, business email, mail-deliverable address, and a business website with a domain that matches the email.
  • Provide no organizational information and rely solely on the business page admin’s legal name or their personal identification documents. For this option, the advertisers will not be able to use a registered organization name in disclaimers.

If one of the two options for small businesses or local politician is used, the aforementioned “i” icon will read, “About this ad,” instead of, “Confirmed Organization.”

So what exactly does this “i” icon do and what information does it provide you?

The “i” Icon

The “i” icon helps audiences on Facebook and Instagram understand who’s trying to influence them and why they’re trying to do so.

When you tap this icon, you have the ability to read information about the ad, as well as the information approved by Facebook; for example, if the advertiser used an EIN or FEC identification number, this would be available to the public. With this information available to Facebook and Instagram audiences, users are able to check the validity of an organization and quickly raise any questions or concerns they have about the ad.

Updated Social Issue Ad Categories

Originally, Facebook had 20 distinct subject areas that it would assign its social issue ad topics to. They have recently shrunk that down to a more concise list of 10 ad topics. Facebook’s aim was to make this list of categories broader so that it can be refined over time. The shrinking of the following categories does not mean the authorization will be any less restrictive.

  1. Civil and social rights
  2. Crime
  3. Economy
  4. Education
  5. Environmental politics
  6. Guns
  7. Health
  8. Immigration
  9. Political values and governance
  10. Security and foreign policy

How Will I Be Affected by the Update?

No matter what organization you may be creating ads for, you must follow these policy updates if your content falls under any of the above-mentioned categories. The amount of political, electoral, and social ads reaching consumers will sharply increase until the election is over. Marketing specialists in charge of creating and running these ads will need to stay informed on updated ad policies to ensure everything runs according to plan.

We can expect even more updates from Facebook in the near future to ensure elections are safer and political advertisers provide more transparent information on the ads we as consumers are being served. The updates will include the following according to Facebook:

  • More enhancements in the Ad Library, such as greater ease of use regarding the tracking and comparing of spending by U.S. presidential candidates.
  • Expanding Facebook’s policies to prohibit ads that expressly discourage people in the U.S. from voting, a commitment Facebook has made as part of a recent civil rights audit.
  • Requiring all pages for national candidates or elected officials to go through Page Publishing Authorization, which requires that page administrators turn on two-factor authentication and verify their primary country location so that Facebook can confirm these pages are using real accounts and are located in the U.S.
  • Exposing more information about a page, such as the business or organization behind it.

Are You Ready for Election Season?

As an advertiser or business owner, this most recent round of updates may seem frustrating given the huge changes Facebook has already rolled out. But fear not! While all of this may sound overwhelming, you can be assured that these changes are ultimately in the best interest of consumers nationwide. Consumers crave transparency, and that’s exactly what Facebook is trying to give them.

Still have questions or concerns about the logistics of running a Facebook advertising campaign? Get in touch with us! Our team of digital marketing experts will plan a strategy unique to your business to keep you up-to-date in this fast-moving, technological world we live in.

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