The first day of Facebook Inc’s moratorium on fresh political advertisements proved out to be a disaster. Facebook has stopped taking new ads from political parties on its platform. The United States political circle was already prepared for the company’s move. The real mess was not a policy but technical failure.
The advertisements which were running before the start of the moratorium period also started being paused. Both political parties have shown their displeasure with Facebook’s move. They complain that their campaigns are badly hurt due to the marred system.
Facebook decided to impose the moratorium amid hue and cry around misinformation and political intervention by its advertisements. Facebook officials have responded that pauses might be a result of technical issues.
The moratorium ahead of Election Day
A few weeks before, major social media companies including Google, Twitter and Facebook were pulled by the administration for their political interference through misinformation and improper advertisement.
Facebook responded to the allegations by announcing the imposition of a week-long moratorium ahead of the Election Day. Tuesday was the first day of the moratorium. Facebook stopped accepting fresh political advertisements. It agreed to continue with the advertisements that were running already on the platform. Facebook, however, clarified that it will object any modification in the content and makeup of those advertisements to avoid any spread of misinformation in the final stage before the Election Day.
Facebook confirmed the complaints of advertisers that some of the pre-existing advertisements were paused incorrectly. Political digital strategist of Facebook said that it is a technical glitch. A subset of advertisements may have been blocked due to data lags.
Facebook officials said that they are aware of the difficulties the campaign managers are facing. Meanwhile, the social media company has also refused to accept some pre-prepared ad campaigns from Republicans. The advertisement had the wording ‘vote today’ but it was to be run on a particular day under the moratorium period.
Both Republicans and Democrats rushed to submit a good number of ads before the moratorium period. The Trump campaign submitted the advertisement before the start of the moratorium period but asked it to run on Thursday. Facebook discarded the advertisement as it was against the policy of the company.
Complainants by Democrats and Republicans
Both Democrats and Republicans say that their campaigns are hit by the measure of Facebook. They said they are facing setbacks on the daily basis.
Rob Flaherty, Biden’s digital director attacked Facebook through his tweet saying that its system failed within seconds of its launch. He said it was a silly, performative pre-election hoop-jumping exercise by the social media giant.
Eric Frenchman, chief marketing officer of Campaign Solutions, a Republican digital firm, complained of pauses in his campaign. Mark Jablonowski of DSPolitical also complained that at the critical moment when ballots are cast daily, such glitches are an irreparable loss to their campaign. DSPolitical is a Democratic campaign managing firm. The founder of Veracity media, Ryan Morgan also confirmed the problems faced by his colleagues.
Facebook comes with a response
Facebook’s product manager, Rob Leathern admitted the irregularities and the difficulties faced by advertisers. She said that some of the pauses might have been placed incorrectly. She assured of an investigation into the issue. Facebook’s political digital strategists have also blamed data lags for the glitches.
Facebook’s attempt to curb misinformation and political indulgence in the final stage of the US presidential election is worth appreciating. But the way it has unfolded on the ground has some serious implications. American presidential campaigns are a grand investment. A lot of resources and effort is put into it over months. Facebook cannot act as a spoiler on account of its experimental measures in these situations.