Facebook says it’s lifting a ban on political ads starting Thursday.
The move by the social media giant will bring an end a self-imposed ban initiated immediately after last November’s election that Facebook said was aimed at slowing the spread of misinformation in the aftermath of a contentious presidential contest.
“We’re resuming political, electoral and social issue ads in the United States on Thursday, March 4,” Facebook said in a statement Wednesday. “We put this temporary ban in place after the November 2020 election to avoid confusion or abuse following Election Day. Unlike other platforms, we require authorization and transparency not just for political and electoral ads, but also for social issue ads, and our systems do not distinguish between these categories.”
Facebook noted, “We’ve heard a lot of feedback about this and learned more about political and electoral ads during this election cycle. As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.”
The controversial ban was only partially lifted to allow for political ads ahead of Georgia’s twin Senate runoff elections, which were held on Jan. 5.
Placing ads on Facebook has become one of the largest and least expensive ways for campaigns to reach voters and potential supporters. Both Democratic and Republican digital strategists were furious over the Facebook ban on political ads.
Google – the other giant when it comes to digital political advertising – also instituted a ban surrounding the 2020 general election. It was temporarily reinstated following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Google announce last week that it was ending its ban.
Facebook and Google are the two biggest digital platforms for political ads. According to data from AdImpact, a leading national ad tracking firm, during the 2020 election cycle $1.13 billion was spent to run ads on Facebook and $586 million on Google.