Facebook lifts ban on political advertising for Georgia runoff elections.
Facebook said Tuesday that it would allow some advertisers to run ads for political topics and candidacies in Georgia, a change from the recent ban on political advertising in the United States and just weeks before a major runoff in the state could be the future of the Senate.
As of Wednesday morning, Facebook said it would allow authorized advertisers to buy and run political ads targeting people in Georgia. Only those who have been previously authorized to run such ads on the platform will be allowed, a process that includes identity verification and other security measures. Otherwise, Facebook’s ban on political advertising remains in effect for the remaining 49 states.
Georgia is home to two momentous runoff elections for the Senate. Two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are battling two Republican incumbents, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The results will determine which party will control the Senate when President-elect Joseph R. Biden takes office next year.
“Over the past few weeks we’ve heard feedback from experts and advertisers across the political spectrum on the importance of expressing their voices and using our tools to reach voters ahead of the Georgia runoff,” said Sarah Schiff, one Facebook product manager responsible for political advertising said in a company blog post about the change. “We agree that our promotional tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections.”
The move follows months of disputes over political advertising on Facebook, which critics say contributes to the spread of misinformation. For the past several years, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to maintain a largely aloof attitude towards speeches on the site unless it does direct harm to the public or individuals are the arbiter of the truth. “
But ahead of the November 3rd presidential election, Facebook took some steps to contain misinformation. This included ceasing new ad purchases in the week leading up to election day and ceasing all political advertising in the United States after polling stations closed. The company has said the ban on political advertisements is temporary, but it has not said when such advertisements will be allowed to resume.
Facebook said it plans to slowly ramp up its advertising program in Georgia, starting with those running political campaigns in the state, as well as state and local election officials and state and national political parties. The company added that it would reject political advertisements that are targeted outside Georgia or that do not affect the upcoming runoff election.
Google, which paused more than five million presidential-related ads after polling stations closed, said last week it would change and allow that policy Advertisers to return election-related ads “provided they adhere to our global advertising guidelines”.