President Donald Trump’s campaign launched more than a dozen new political ads on Facebook on Tuesday, despite the platform’s ban on such ads in the week leading up to the election.
Political ads in the U.S. “must be created and start delivering before October 27,” according to Facebook’s widely touted policy, which was implemented to prevent unsubstantiated information from spreading through ads in the run-up to Nov. 3. Existing political ads that went live prior to the ban are allowed to run throughout the restriction period; new ads cannot be launched post-ban.
But data from Facebook’s ad library shows that Trump’s latest ads launched on Oct. 27 — not before it — suggesting Facebook cannot enforce its own policies just days ahead of Election Day.
After HuffPost flagged the ads to Facebook, the company removed most, but not all, of them for violating its policies.
“[Facebook’s] implementation certainly has only inspired more fears over how they’re going to be able to handle these last-minute election-specific rollouts,” said Jesse Lehrich, cofounder of the nonprofit Accountable Tech. “It constantly feels like they’re dealing with optics — they’re thinking of everything as optical problems and never as structural problems.”
The ads, which primarily targeted residents of Georgia, Arizona, Florida and Iowa, had a combined potential reach of more than 12 million people. All of them encouraged their audiences to vote. Several even included the misleading messages, “ELECTION DAY IS TODAY” and “Vote Today,” which Facebook prohibits.
“As we made clear in our public communications and directly to campaigns, we prohibit ads that say ‘Vote Today’ without additional context or clarity,” a company spokesperson told HuffPost in a statement.
By contrast, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign has not released any new ads since the ban took effect. Although Facebook’s ad library appears to show active...