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Facebook Tightens Restrictions on Political Advertisements

David Greenburg

16 November 2020

In the spirit of the recent presidential election, I thought it would be a good idea to analyze and better understand how political advertising functions on social media. The New York Times published an article in early October breaking down Facebook’s policies on this subject. Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have faced heavy criticism on their handling of political advertisements from the previous presidential election. Facebook had no choice except to drastically modify their advertising procedures.

The big policy Facebook put into place is that they are banning all political advertisements on their platform after the polls close on November 3rd. Zuckerberg also stated that Facebook has spent about $5.1 billion on making sure that the platform is not vulnerable to any attacks attempting to spread false information. However, other social media companies such as Twitter have already banned all political advertisements a year ago. Additionally, Facebook is not notifying its users if any posts from politicians contain false information unlike other platforms such as Twitter. Zuckerberg claims that Facebook has “done more than any other company over the past four years to help secure the integrity of elections” even though they are clearly behind compared to other platforms. Zuckerberg’s reasoning for the delay of these new policies is that he wanted to make sure the voices of less well-known politicians were heard.

As seen from the chart above, over half of Americans don’t want any political advertisements on social media with only a quarter of the national population wanting all political advertisements. As discussed in class, the recent annual Harris polls showed that 88% of Americans felt that businesses possessed too much political power. It is likely that these statistics are part of the reason why Zuckerberg and Facebook were swayed to remove political advertisements on their platform.

Original Article: Isaac, M. (2020, October 07). Facebook Widens Ban on Political Ads as Alarm Rises Over Election. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/technology/facebook-political-ads-ban.html

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