Mark Zuckerberg Gets Pushback From Facebook Employees Over Political Ads Policy
After making an appearance before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg is facing some scrutiny from his own employees surrounding the political ads policies in light of the upcoming election in 2020.
According to Fox News,
Hundreds of Facebook employees sent its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter blasting his position of not cracking down on “false” political ads placed on the social media platform.
In a lengthy letter obtained by The New York Times, the employees expressed that they were “worried” Facebook would “undo great strides” that have been made in the past two years as the company has been under intense scrutiny following the 2016 election and Russia’s efforts to spread misinformation.
Here are the points that Facebook employees want to discuss or changed. In BOLD, I’ve including my input on these points.
1. Hold political ads to the same standard as other ads.
a. Misinformation shared by political advertisers has an outsized detrimental impact on our community. We should not accept money for political ads without applying the standards that our other ads have to follow.
I agree with this. There should be a standard that everyone should have to follow. But the problem with this is the ones who will be “fact checking” are going to be super biased liberals who will shoot down practically any conservative ad. Also, what is the timeline going to be to get these ads approved? It could take weeks or months that politicians don’t have.
2. Stronger visual design treatment for political ads.
a. People have trouble distinguishing political ads from organic posts. We should apply a stronger design treatment to political ads that makes it easier for people to establish context.
That’s the whole point. Making it looks organic. I would think that with the election coming soon, people would likely be more willing to look at a political ad if it stood out in a special way.
3. Restrict targeting for political ads.
a. Currently, politicians and political campaigns can use our advanced targeting tools, such as Custom Audiences. It is common for political advertisers to upload voter rolls (which are publicly available in order to reach voters) and then use behavioral tracking tools (such as the FB pixel) and ad engagement to refine ads further. The risk with allowing this is that it’s hard for people in the electorate to participate in the “public scrutiny” that we’re saying comes along with political speech. These ads are often so micro-targeted that the conversations on our platforms are much more siloed than on other platforms. Currently we restrict targeting for housing and education and credit verticals due to a history of discrimination. We should extend similar restrictions to political advertising. There is a youtube marketing company that helps get a better reach.
This, I think is overstepping the boundary. The reason there are restrictions for housing, education, and credit related ads is because there are actualy laws regarding these. There are no laws (to my knowledge) for who politicians can talk to or give information to, therefore it should be open to however they wish to target.
4. Broader observance of the election silence periods
a. Observe election silence in compliance with local laws and regulations. Explore a self-imposed election silence for all elections around the world to act in good faith and as good citizens.
5. Spend caps for individual politicians, regardless of source
a. FB has stated that one of the benefits of running political ads is to help more voices get heard. However, high-profile politicians can out-spend new voices and drown out the competition. To solve for this, if you have a PAC and a politician both running ads, there would be a limit that would apply to both together, rather than to each advertiser individually.
This defeats to purpose of competition. Let’s imagine you run a donut shop that sells 20 times more donuts than your local competitor. You both want to use Facebook ads to draw in business. Their budget is only $5 per day, but you can afford to spend $100 per day and grow your business tremendously. Do you really want to be limited as to how much money you’re allowed to make from online advertising based on a weak competitor?
6. Clearer policies for political ads
a. If FB does not change the policies for political ads, we need to update the way they are displayed. For consumers and advertisers, it’s not immediately clear that political ads are exempt from the fact-checking that other ads go through. It should be easily understood by anyone that our advertising policies about misinformation don’t apply to original political content or ads, especially since political misinformation is more destructive than other types of misinformation.
Therefore, the section of the policies should be moved from “prohibited content” (which is not allowed at all) to “restricted content” (which is allowed with restrictions).
I think maybe here, Facebook could include some sort of disclaimer about the ad and that would be sufficient.