SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook announced Wednesday that it intends to lift the ban on political advertising on its network and resume a form of digital advertising that has been criticized for spreading misinformation, lies and voter inflammation.
The social network said it would allow advertisers to purchase new ads on “social issues, elections or politics” starting Thursday. This is evident from a copy of an email sent to political advertisers and viewed by the New York Times. These advertisers are required to perform a series of identity checks before they are allowed to serve the ads, according to the company.
“We introduced this temporary ban after the November 2020 elections to avoid confusion or abuse after election day,” Facebook said in a blog post. “We have had a lot of feedback on this and learned more about political ads and campaigns during this election cycle. For this reason, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work in our service and to determine where further changes are appropriate. “
Political advertising on Facebook has long been faced with questions. Mark Zuckerberg, the executive director of Facebook, said he wanted to maintain a largely straightforward attitude towards the speech on the site – including political advertisements – unless it would pose direct harm to the public or individuals, saying that he ” does not want “the arbiter of truth. “
However, after the 2016 presidential election, the company and intelligence officials discovered that Russians had used Facebook ads to sow dissatisfaction among Americans. Former President Donald J. Trump also used Facebook’s political ads to reinforce claims of an “invasion” of the Mexican border in 2019, among other things.
Facebook banned political ads late last year to stave off misinformation and threats of violence related to the November presidential election. In September, the company announced that it would ban new political ads for the week leading up to election day and act swiftly against posts that were intended to prevent people from voting. In October, Facebook expanded this action by stating that it would ban all political and thematic advertising after polls were closed for an indefinite period on November 3rd.
In December, the company lifted the ban to allow some advertisers to advertise political issues and running for Georgia for the January runoff in the state. Otherwise, the ban remained in force for the remaining 49 states.
This is a developing story and will be updated.