In the wake of the 2016 US Election, Facebook made drastic changes to its policies regarding Political Ads and the way they would be handled. Among the changes are the Ad Library and the requirement of advertisers to be authorized. In some ways, this may be seen as Facebook’s move to keep Political Ads out of users’ News Feeds and to avoid renewed criticism experienced after the last presidential election.
With the 2020 election season on the horizon, Facebook added further requirements to the policy, asking even more of advertisers for the coming election season. This change also includes a heavy investment in people (read: an increase in policy reviewers) and improving its technology to “proactively identify abuse and help prevent foreign interference.”
So – where do you start? You can tell a Political Ad from a normal sponsored post by the disclaimer: “Paid for By,” which states who has funded the ads. In a recent update, Facebook stated, “Despite [the] requirements, there are a number of cases where advertisers have attempted to put misleading “Paid for By” disclaimers on their ads.”
In the wake of this latest round of Political Ad deception, Facebook chose to roll out further updates to the Political Ads process, requiring Disclaimer Approval and the submission of further information about the organization running the ads.
The good news? Nothing regarding the authorization process on a user-level has changed. “Confirming Your Identity” is still required for any user wanting to run political or social issue-related ads.
The not-so-great news? Your “Paid for By” disclaimer requires an extra bit of work. In addition to providing important business information such as an address, business email, and matching website, one of the following is required:
- A Tax-registered organization identification number (i.e. EIN)
- A government website domain that matches an email ending in .gov or .mil
- A Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number
For SMBs or local politicians who aren’t credentialed in this way, Facebook does provide two other options when submitting Disclaimers for approval:
- Submitting a verifiable phone number, business email, mail-deliverable address, and a business website with a domain that matches the email; or
- Submitting no organization-related information. Facebook will not allow the usage of a registered organization name in disclaimers for users who choose this option.
When all is said and done, what does this do for your ads? For options 1-3, an “i” icon will appear in the upper-right corner that states this is a “Confirmed Organization.” For options 4-5, the “i” will instead read “About this ad.”
Ultimately, Facebook wants to provide users with more knowledge about who is influencing them within their social feeds. Facebook further states, “This will allow people to confidently gauge the legitimacy of an organization and quickly raise questions or concerns if they find anything out of the ordinary.”
In addition to these five options, Facebook overhauled its list of social issues within the United States, narrowing them down to a set of 10. The original list was “meant to be fluid,” but was a pain point for many users who appealed wrongly flagged ads that were caught in the error net. Facebook says its authorization process will still be enforced, but ads that merely advocate or discuss social issues will not require further authorization –unlike previous iterations of this policy.
For a full list of social issues within your country, click here.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself “how does this apply to me?” If you’re looking to run ads relating to Social Issues or true Political Ads, we suggest budgeting an extra bit of time into your schedule. From experience, Facebook is reviewing every “Paid for By” Disclaimer submitted for legitimacy and will send it back for review if updates are required. The social network has even gone so far as to build a helpful one-sheeter, which can be reviewed here.
If you’re running ads outside of these categories but were flagged for social issues, our best recommendation is to appeal. If you can provide the Facebook Policy Team with legitimate reasons why your ads aren’t of a political or social nature (ie. you’re an electrician who specializes in alternative energy installations). They’re pretty good about reactivating campaigns. Remember, the Tiger Pistol team is always here to help!