By Emily Glazer, Patience Haggin and Alexandra Bruell
Republican and Democratic political advertisers are scrambling
to submit their ads to Facebook Inc. before the end of Monday after
the social network decided not to allow new political ads in the
week leading up to Election Day.
Facebook's move, which it announced last month as part of an
effort to limit misinformation that could lead to civil unrest, is
prompting campaigns to submit new ads as soon as possible. Some are
also looking for other platforms or social-media influencers to
carry their messages.
The rush is part of an effort to guarantee political groups
would be able to use Facebook to share information about voting,
persuade people to go to the polls and inform them about races.
Tech for Campaigns, a technology nonprofit that works with
left-leaning down-ballot campaigns, submitted ads for roughly 60
local Democratic races ahead of the deadline to Facebook, which is
less expensive than television or radio advertising.
"A lot of money does come in at the very end. That's just donor
behavior, " Tech for Campaigns' co-founder Jessica Alter said. So
the group submitted its ads extra early so that any ad Facebook
rejected could be altered and resubmitted before the Monday night
Facebook, as well as Alphabet Inc.'s Google, is also blocking
political advertising after polls close on Election Night.
As campaigns and political groups shift strategies to adjust to
Facebook's new limitations, some are increasingly turning to other
platforms or social-media influencers, where rules often are
murkier for political content.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign hired
Obviously, an influencer marketing agency, to recruit popular
social-media users with the power to reach their relatively small
but devoted groups of followers in swing states. While Obviously is
being paid, the influencers are volunteering their efforts.
Obviously founder Mae Karwowski said Instagram -- a popular
Facebook-owned platform for influencers -- has become more
important for user posts about politics in the wake of Facebook's
A Biden aide said the work with Obviously is part of a robust
strategy to reach voters through organic posts on social media.
Influencers have also been used to support the Trump campaign or
other Republicans during this cycle.
Daniel Beckmann, founder and chief executive of Soapboxx, an
organization that helps Democratic campaigns organize volunteers,
said campaigns using volunteer social-media influencers might want
them to stay active even after Election Day, especially in
A Facebook spokeswoman said if Instagram influencers are paid to
post content, they must follow Facebook's policy and disclose it.
If a post is boosted to reach more people, it would require a
disclaimer, she said.
While Facebook's political-ad limitation doesn't have the
outsize impact it would likely have had during a typical election
season -- with many in the country now voting early, either in
person or by mail, due to coronavirus concerns -- it is still
limiting, political operatives said.
Political groups might not be able to respond to attacks from
opponents, share information about changes to polling sites'
locations or hours or react to other unexpected moves in the last
few days before Election Day.
Republicans and Democrats also said Facebook's move favors
incumbents or those with larger followings that can blast out
messages from their own accounts or pages instead of relying on
"Smaller campaigns are the ones who will be most negatively
impacted by these changes," said Reid Vineis, vice president of
Majority Strategies, a digital ad-buying firm serving Republicans.
"Larger campaigns have digital teams, agencies and more resources
to run ads through other platforms...whereas local campaigns
frequently put all their eggs in the Facebook basket."
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company thinks get-out-the-vote
messaging is important -- and it is still allowing ads so long as
they are approved by the deadline. It is banning new ads because
there often isn't enough time to contest new claims in campaign
messaging in the final days before an election, she said.
Political campaigns typically raise -- and then spend -- a lot
of money in their final weeks. Facebook didn't disclose political
ad spending specific to the weeks ahead of the 2018 election. But
on Google platforms, 56% of such spending happened a month ahead of
the 2018 election and 42% of advertisers started spending in the
final four weeks, according to an analysis of Google ad archive
data by Tech for Campaigns.
When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the decision to
block new political ads, he cited as a concern likely delays in
tallying election results due to an expected pandemic-driven surge
in absentee voting. At the time, a number of Republicans and
Democrats denounced the move for requiring them to change
strategies so close to the election. Still, it is better than
banning Facebook political ads altogether, said Andrew Bleeker,
president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, which works with
Amid confusion since unveiling the policy, Facebook has sent
frequent updates to political advertisers with wording
specifications, early deadlines and other recommendations. The
company has suggested that political advertisers complete its
authorization process by Oct. 20 and create any ads before Oct. 23
"to prevent last-minute disapprovals that would prevent your ad
from running," according to an email viewed by The Wall Street
Facebook has reminded them that ad reviews can take up to 72
hours and that ads must be approved and start delivering
impressions by Oct. 27.
The social-media giant has also encouraged advertisers to run
messages that will stay relevant through Election Day, prohibiting
"vote today" and instead suggesting "Vote on November 3," according
to emails reviewed by the Journal.
Write to Emily Glazer at firstname.lastname@example.org, Patience Haggin
at email@example.com and Alexandra Bruell at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 26, 2020 13:25 ET (17:25 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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