Facebook will not automatically subject influencers who are paid to post sponsored content promoting political candidates to its ad guidelines.
Facebook’s decision not to regulate ‘branded’ political content automatically comes days after presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg was discovered paying more than a dozen popular Instagram accounts to promote his campaign.
Bloomberg’s sponsored content appeared on meme accounts like @F***Jerry and @Tank.Sinatra which have 14.9 million followers and 2.3 million followers respectively.
Facebook said branded content that promotes a political candidate and is posted by influnecers on its platforms won’t be subject to ad regulations unless the post is boosted. Pictured is a paid meme from US presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg. The image was posted to the popular meme account @F***Jerry
Also among the accounts posting Bloomberg content, is @Kalesalad which is owned by Buzzfeed employee, Samir Mezrahi.
The outlet, which disclosed Mezrahi’s connection with @Kalesalad and the sponsored political content in its coverage of Facebook’s policy, allows non-new employees to profit from their own social media presence according to its own report.
According to Facebook, the platform’s ad guidelines surrounding sponsored political posts will apply, but only if the post in question is promoted by the influencer through the platform’s in-house paid promotion feature.
Those posts will have to be clearly labeled as ads and will be filed in its ad library, they say.
‘Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,’ a Facebook spokesperson told MailOnline in an email.
‘After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there’s a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms. We’re allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools.’
Though Facebook claims influencers are ‘required’ disclose partnerships in sponsored posts, the language used in its official policy is much softer.
In the platform’s official guidelines, it says, ‘Some Branded Content requires disclosure to people to notify them that the content is commercial in nature. Facebook provides tools to enable our publishers, creators and advertisers to make these disclosures, where required.’
MailOnline has reached out to Facebook to clarify the language but has not received a response.
The amount of detail available through ads filed in Facebook’s ad library is magnitudes greater than branded content and includes the amount of money spent, who paid for the post, which demographics saw the post, and more.
Instagram and Facebook have come under great scrutiny for their role in facilitating safe political discussions as the 2020 presidential elections close in
Amid backlash for its role in spreading political information, Facebook has slowly added transparency tools over the last several years to give users insight into what types of content they’re seeing and why.
Facebook has increasingly come under fire for its ad practices throughout the last year and in September said it would not censor false claims that appear in paid political ads under the exemption of ‘newsworthiness.’
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the company’s policy both in a speech at Georgetown University earlier this year and again in congressional hearings.
‘Our policy is we do not fact check politicians’ speech, and the reason for that is that we believe that in a democracy it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying,’ Zuckerberg said in the hearings.
Facebook says it will refrain from removing claims in political ads, even those that are found to be false, if they ‘believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm.’