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Will Facebook's Political Ad Authorization Policy Silence the Everyman?

Ever had a Facebook ad rejected, with basically no explanation? Its hard enough as a digital marketing professional, but for anyone who's new to the game it can very quickly become a maze of frustration. For example, we have worked with not-for-profits who are attempting to "strike when the iron is hot" following some good Media coverage. Their ads get rejected with little to no explanation (doesn't meet "community standards") and then it takes a few days to approve manually - meanwhile, they lost a significant fund-raising opportunity to capitalize on a news story.

So, An an effort to make Facebook more transparent, Zuckerberg and company just added another step requiring authorization for "political advertising." (LINK HERE: Read that again; you now have to be "authorized" to post political ads.

Four Important Questions About the Facebook Political Advertising Vetting Process

While I get that this is a reaction to Russian troll scandal, it brings up some massive questions, which, in typical Facebook manner, aren't quickly answered. Here are the ones that jump to mind:Stock_photo_of_russian_troll_farm

1) What (where?) are the criteria to get authorized? Do you merely have to prove you are a real person with a real account, or is there something more significant you need to prove? The NRA is likely to run political ads, but given Facebook's anti-gun stance, will they be authorized?

2) Who is making the decision? Again, standard ads get rejected all the time with no real explanation. It is probably one of the most frustrating things about the medium. Is this automated? Is there a committee? It would be interesting to know these things.

3) Suppose I get rejected, what is the appeal process? Again, without knowing why you were rejected, it makes it pretty hard to defend or appeal.

4) What is the definition of a political ad? Is it only for candidates? What about negative ads? What about lobbyists, unions, groups or companies who want to support a specific person or issue? Will every single person have to be authorized before he can put $20 bucks to promote a post that is important to them?

Concentrating the Power of FB in the Hands of a Few

In a nutshell, that fourth point is probably my biggest problem with this process (besides the lack of transparency mentioned above.) It amounts to putting the undoubted influence and power of Facebook into the hands of political professionals and will limit the voice of the average person.

As an example: Say there is closely contested local election in my city this week, the results of which may have a dramatic impact on me and my business. Three days out, the local paper reports that it appears to be a dead heat. I want to show my support for the candidate/issue that is important to me and run some advertising to support my issue. If I have not been vetted, it is unlikely I can do so in time to make an impact.

In a non-digital world, when an election is close, people will take to the streets with signs, or maybe canvas a neighborhood or stand at the grocery store with a clipboard. We have all seen unions buy ads in the local papers before strikes or layoffs. This is the American political system at work! Now imagine if all of those activities required you to go to town hall to get a permit, AND you had to have done it the previous year.

Average people get activated around politics as elections get closer, and with this vetting process, Facebook may very well be silencing their voices.

#facebook #advertising #digitalmarketing #politics