Facebook said Tuesday that it would allow some advertisers to run ads on political issues and candidacies in Georgia, a change from the recent ban on political ads in the US and just weeks before a major runoff election in the state will determine the future of the US could Senate.
As of Wednesday morning, Facebook announced that authorized advertisers could buy and run political ads for people in Georgia. Only those who were previously authorized to place such advertisements on the platform will be admitted. This process includes identity verification and other security measures. Otherwise, Facebook's ban on political advertising remains in effect for the remaining 49 states.
There are two consecutive runoff elections to the Senate in Georgia. 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 have received feedback from experts and advertisers across the political spectrum on the importance of expressing voice and using our tools to reach voters ahead of the run-off in Georgia," said Sarah Schiff, product manager at Facebook, 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, according to critics, contributes to the spread of misinformation. Over the past few years, Facebook's executive director Mark Zuckerberg has stated that he wanted to maintain a largely straightforward attitude towards the language on the site unless it would pose direct harm to the public or individuals and said he did will not be the arbiter of truth. "
However, ahead of the November 3rd presidential election, Facebook took a few steps to contain misinformation. This included stopping new ad purchases in the week leading up to election day and pausing all political advertising in the US after the polls were completed. The company has stated that the ban on political ads is temporary, but it has not specified when such ads will be allowed to resume.
Facebook said it plans to slowly ramp up the ad program in Georgia, starting with political campaigns in the state, as well as with representatives from state and local elections and state and national political parties. The company added that it would oppose political advertising that is targeted outside of Georgia or that does not affect the upcoming runoff elections.
Google, which paused more than five million ads related to the presidential election following the polls, said last week it would change and allow that policy Advertisers will start serving election ads again "as long as they comply with our global advertising guidelines".