Policies Adopted by Social Media Sites to Regulate Political Ads

How social media sites handle political ads

Before the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scam was exposed, we hardly knew why we keep seeing ads for certain political parties. It turns out that our personal data on Facebook was being harvested to shape our political views through these personalized ads. Now that we are approaching the U.S. presidential election in 2020, there’s a growing pressure on these digital platforms to stop promoting political ads that carry false or misleading claims.

The important question at this hour is – What are these social media platforms doing to the political ads? In the US, the Communications Act prevents broadcast stations from rejecting or censoring advertisements from candidates for federal office once they have agreed to advertise for the political contention. However, this regulation does not apply to social media sites, where the candidates are spending millions to target the voters.


So, here’s how social media websites are dealing with political ads prior to the big US presidential election.

  1. Facebook:

It is surprising that Facebook exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program. It means they can run political ads even with false claims. For obvious reasons, Facebook has faced a lot of criticism for this policy as it could spread false information. This is the reason why data available on Facebook isn’t considered research material for academic assignment help.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of the company, has defended the policy by saying that it does not wish to stifle political speech, but his company was considering ways to improve the policy for better. As a matter of fact, Facebook conducts fact-check content from political groups. The platform also claims that it scrutinizes politicians if they share content that was previously debunked, and does not allow such content in advertisements.


  1. Twitter:

Unlike Facebook, Twitter Inc does not tolerate such ads. It has banned political ads on the platform. In a recent statement, the company confirmed that the ban covers ads that reference a political candidate, party, election or legislation, among other limits. The company further clarified that it won’t allow ads that advocate for a particular outcome on social or political causes.

While a lot of lawmakers have appreciated Twitter’s decision, some of them have pointed out that Twitter’s decision would benefit incumbent and hurt the less known candidates.


  1. Google:

Google and its popular video streaming platform YouTube do not endorse particular kinds of misinterpretation in ads, including misinformation about public voting procedures or wrong claims like the demise of a public figure. However, Google does not have a complete ban on false or misleading ads on political campaigns.

A few months ago, when the former Vice President, Joe Biden’s political campaign asked the internet giant to take down a Trump campaign ad, saying it had false claims, the company replied that the ad didn’t violate any of the site’s policies.

A new feature on YouTube adds links and information from Wikipedia to its videos to help the users find more information on sensitive content, like the conspiracy theory videos. However, the company spokesperson said this feature has no relation to ads.


  1. Reddit:

Reddit has this unique policy that allows ads related to political issues and political candidates at the federal level; not for state or local elections. It also does not allow ads on political issues, candidates or elections outside of the US.

Furthermore, the company says that all political ads need to adhere to its policies which forbid “deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising”, as mentioned in a Reuters report. The policies of the company also prohibit content which depicts intolerant or overly contentious political or culture topics pr opinions.


  1. LinkedIn:

This Microsoft Corp. owned social media site has put a ban on political ads since 2018. This company strictly bans all such ads which advocate against or for a certain candidate or ballot proposition or otherwise intended to influence the outcome of an electoral process. Bing, the search engine owned by Microsoft, also doesn’t allow ads related to politics or elections.


  1. Snapchat:

Snap Inc does not have any issue running political ads on their messaging app Snapchat, unless the ads are misleading, deceptive, or violate the terms of service of the app. The company identifies political ads like the ones that advocate a political party or candidate on election-related issues. Snapchat has not put a ban on “attack” ads in general. However, its policy prohibits attacks made on a candidate’s personal life.


  1. Pinterest:

Like most of the entries in this list, Pinterest Inc also banned ads that talk about political campaigns last year. The ban was made on all the advertising for political candidates, legislation, political action committees (PACs), or political issues which are made with the intention to influence an election.

According to Reuters, the Pinterest spokesperson expressed that the company wants to create a positive, welcoming environment for the users. Political campaign ads are on the other side of the spectrum as they are often divisive in nature. The company spokesperson also mentioned that these measures were a part of the company’s strategy to address misinformation.


  1. TikTok:

This increasingly popular Chinese application also does not allow political advertising on the platform. In a recent announcement, the company stated that they want to make sure the platform continues to feel “light-hearted and irrelevant”.

According to the vice president of the company, the nature of paid political ads does not fit the TikTok platform experience. The company recently went under scrutiny from the lawmakers in the US over the concerns that the company may be censoring politically sensitive content, which raises the question of how the app stores personal data.


In conclusion,

It is quite clear that Twitter and several other social media platforms are quite strict about the kind of ads that are run through their platforms. However, the social media giants like Facebook and Google are leaving enough room for the political campaigns to utilize their ads to shape public opinion. Undoubtedly, it’s an alarming issue for most of the Americans since the 2020 presidential election is just a few months away.


Author bio:

Nionica Starc is a social media marketer who is currently working with a reputed eCommerce website. He is also associated with MyAssignmenthelp.com, where he offers mba marketing project assignment help to students on request.




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