Trump, Biden campaigns slam Facebook after ‘technical issues’ impact political ads

Trump, Biden campaigns slam Facebook after ‘technical issues’ impact political ads


Facebook is trying to curb the spread of misinformation before election day.

Angela Lang / CNET

Campaign officials for President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden both target Facebook, accusing the world’s largest social network of falsely blocking their ads days before the November 3rd election.

Facebook stopped accepting new political ads on October 27th to ensure the integrity of the US election. However, ads approved before this deadline can still run until November 3rd.

Facebook said in a blog post on Thursday that “technical flaws” in the company’s system resulted in some approved ads not being properly paused after the new ad restrictions went into effect. Advertisers also struggled to make changes to their ads. Some ads were blocked because advertisers made changes to the audience shortly before the deadline.

The mistakes in both campaigns have raised concerns that Facebook is enforcing its rules in such a way that one political party benefits the other in the crucial days leading up to the elections. The problems highlight the challenges in enforcing the political advertising ban, which was passed to safeguard electoral integrity. Russian trolls used Facebook to instill dissension among Americans in the 2016 US presidential election.

“No ad has been paused or rejected by a person or because of party political considerations,” Facebook said in the blog post. “The technical issues were automated and affected ads across the political spectrum and both presidential campaigns.” The world’s largest social network has announced that after the polls end on November 3rd, it will temporarily suspend all ads on social, election or political issues in the US to “reduce the risk of confusion and abuse”.

As of Friday, Trump and Biden’s campaigns said they still had problems with Facebook ads.

Megan Clasen, a Biden consultant, tweeted Friday that thousands of pre-approved Facebook ads have not yet appeared on the social network.

Biden’s campaign estimates that more than $ 500,000 in planned donations was lost because donation ads could not be displayed on Facebook.

“It is currently unclear to us whether or not Facebook is giving Donald Trump an unfair electoral advantage in this particular case, but it is perfectly clear that Facebook was completely unprepared to hold this election despite having had four years to prepare,” said Rob Flaherty. the digital director for Biden’s campaign, in a statement Thursday.

Samantha Zager, a spokeswoman for Trump’s re-election campaign, said in a statement Friday that the ban on new political ads would limit her ability to speak out on important topics like economic growth and stand up against Biden.

“The Silicon Valley Mafia is now taking a step further, preventing us from running approved ads in the days before millions of Americans cast their ballots,” said Zater. “This is no accident. Facebook is blocking our campaign ads that follow their own ridiculous rules simply for working against President Trump. This is not a mistake, this is a corporate election disruption.”

Facebook spokeswoman Elana Widmann said the “vast majority” of ads that shouldn’t be paused are now showing. “We are working directly with both presidential campaigns to resolve some remaining ad serving issues that we anticipate resolving for all advertisers,” she said. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday while on the company Call for prizes that political and government advertisements represented a “low single-digit percentage” of Facebook’s advertising revenue in the third quarter.

Both campaigns spent millions of dollars on Facebook ahead of Election Day.

From May 2018 to October 28, 2020, Biden’s Facebook page spent more than $ 95 million on social, political, and election ads, according to Facebook’s Political Ads Database. Trump’s Facebook page spent more than $ 108 million on these ads over the same period.

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