Facebook institutes new requirements for political ads

Last week, in the face of growing public scrutiny, Facebook adopted a series of new rules aimed at preventing abuses in political advertising. The new rules contain a requirement for disclosure of who paid for political ads found on both Facebook and Instagram.

As of May 24, 2018, Facebook and Instagram ads must display a “paid for” label at the top of each ad. The label must be linked to a page with information about the cost of the ad, as well as demographics about the individuals who viewed the ad. Advertisers wanting to run political content in the United States are now required to verify their identity and location.

A few days after the FaceBook announcement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed lawsuits against Facebook and Google after receiving complaints that the companies have not maintained information about political advertisements placed on their web platforms as required by that state’s laws. In the state of Washington, campaign finance laws require all advertisers to collect, store and make publically available the information of those who purchase political advertising related to state and local campaigns. Required data includes the name of candidate or measure, advertising dates, name and address of the purchaser, total cost and who paid the bill.

While Ohio law does not contain a similar requirement to what is found in the state of Washington, Ohio does prohibit TV and print media outlets from running any political communication that does not contain the required disclaimer. Given increased usage of social media ad space for political purposes, an increase in state and national requirements for digital advertising is likely.

Campaign Finance