Facebook's political ad rules are blocking non-political ads
Including ads for lawn-mowing, waxing salons, and Walmart 🤔
Posted on July 4, 2018 12:49 AM.
Facebook recently announced the launch of new policies and tools for running ad campaigns on their platform, requiring political ads to include disclosures like a “paid for by” tag. For ads that don't comply, they would be flagged and removed from Facebook, and held in an archive explaining why. The tools use a mix of automation and human moderation to gauge whether or not the ads are in violation of the new policies, but as some users experienced recently, it's not working as well as Facebook had hoped.
BloombergSarah Frier
On Friday, Facebook took down an ad from a Walmart Inc. store in Beeville, Texas, that was advertising Bush’s baked beans on sale for $1.77 ahead of the Fourth of July.
Walmart wasn't alone. The same thing happened to two other ads, because they included the word “bush,” which Facebook's system associated with the former US president.
BloombergSarah Frier
In Clinton, Indiana, a vacation bible school was blocked from advertising a free lunch event for kids aged 3 to 12. “Come learn how COOL Jesus’s love is!” it said. In Clinton, Iowa, an insurance company was blocked from advertising its annual family baseball night for customers and friends, featuring a backpack drive for needy children. And in Clinton, Tennessee, Facebook’s system took down an ad for performances of Twelfth Night and the Jungle Book, featuring actors from local high schools.
Just like the “bush” ads, the system marks ads containing “Clinton” to be political as well.
BloombergSarah Frier
Despite some progress, the company’s ads system still uses crude keyword cues, without understanding the broader context of what is said. That affects not just what Facebook takes down, but what it fails to find. Earlier this year, some companies easily circumvented Facebook’s temporary ban on bitcoin ads by misspelling bitcoin, putting a zero where the “o” should be.
USA TODAYAlexander Coolidge
“Our goal with this policy is to stop bad actors in interfering in elections, not to create unnecessary hurdles for businesses," the social media giant said. "But right now, we are erring on the side of transparency and working with our advertisers to help them better understand this important policy and what is required.”

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