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Facebook and Google are quietly extending bans on political advertising


Social media updates

Facebook and Google have tacitly extended their bans on political advertising beyond their planned week-long by-election moratorium as U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to use the platforms to share allegations about a stolen poll.

Both companies continue to block election-related advertising after an initial week-long blackout following the November 3rd vote.

Facebook said in an email to advertisers viewed by the Financial Times that they “should expect this temporary hiatus to last another month,” but added that “there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner “.

The expansions come as online gravity relies on Mr Trump’s claims that widespread electoral fraud allowed his Democratic opponents to “steal” the election he would otherwise have won.

Meanwhile, officials at President-elect Joe Biden have alleged that Facebook, in particular, is not doing enough to keep the “Stop the Steal” narrative from gaining traction and has failed to quell calls for violence. On Monday, Bill Russo, Mr. Biden’s press officer, accused the company on Twitter of “tearing apart the fabric of our democracy.”

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has long refused to scrutinize political advertisements on the grounds that private-sector companies shouldn’t be the “arbiter of the truth.” However, under pressure from critics, the company made concessions to its hard line on freedom of expression and announced shortly before the election that it would block new political ads the week before the election and all ads the week after.

“Advertisers can expect this to take a week, although that can change,” the company said at the time, pointing out that the ban could be extended longer if necessary.

Separately, Google informed advertisers in September that it would impose a ban for at least seven days and then review the situation weekly thereafter, according to Axios.

Google confirmed to the FT that the blackout was still in effect, but did not want to provide any further details on when it could be lifted.

Facebook announced in an email to advertisers on Wednesday morning that “although several sources have forecast a presidential winner, we still believe it is important to avoid confusion or abuse on our platform,” adding that it would notify them that when the ban has been lifted.

It came after the FT reported that several advertisers complained Tuesday that they were “frustrated” that they were not notified whether or not the ban should be extended, despite reaching out to companies for clarity to get.

Advertisers and experts have mixed views on when to relax the ban. Some have urged social media groups to keep political advertising turned off until Mr Trump admits or the outcome is certified so that the president doesn’t use tools to target users with unsubstantiated claims.

Others argued that political advertising should be reinstated, especially since the ban has prevented candidates from exchanging news and fundraising in Georgia, where there will be a runoff in the Senate.

“This is terrible news for anyone who wants to use an election victory to build power on the ground. [and] launch a campaign or organization for 2021 or 2022, ”said Eric Reif, managing director of progressive campaigns consultancy eStreet Group.

The uncertainty arises when the social media platforms grapple with an increasing flood of misinformation after the survey. Facebook last week called emergency measures to make it more difficult for users to share posts with misleading information and to limit their circulation.

Separately, the company released a statement Tuesday defending itself against allegations by left-wing critics that its algorithm promoted provocative content and misinformation, which often resulted in right-wing experts going viral. It also said that political content accounted for only about 6 percent of what US users saw on the platform and that the contingency measures remained in place.

In the meantime, Google’s YouTube has been accused of leaving certain misinformation on its platform despite protests.


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