Facebook bans political post for breaking rules on transparency amid increased scrutiny of ads

Post was circumventing rules intended to force people to reveal who is paying for ads

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 05 November 2019 18:29

Facebook has banned a political ad for breaking its rules on transparency.

The post – which included an unverified suggestion that a Labour government would cost the reader a substantial amount of tax, and which was showing to normal users before the company was alerted to it – has now been taken off the site.

But before it disappeared it did not show as political ads should on Facebook, which claims to require advertisers to be open about who has paid for a certain post and why users are being shown it.

The latest controversy comes after the post was spotted by the BBC, which pointed out the post was being promoted by a tax campaign group.

It comes as Facebook faces sustained and growing criticism over the way it deals with political ads on its platform. Various critics – including employees of Facebook itself – have argued that the site's policy is dangerous, and that it takes money to host misleading, false and extremist ads.

The new anti-Labour ad was found as those concerns become more pronounced as the UK heads towards the general election.

Under the add was a message reading "sponsored", which makes clear that someone has paid for it to be promoted. But political ads are supposed to include an extra note, with advertisers required to register and make clear who is paying for certain posts.

The advertiser will now have to register future posts to allow them to run posts about politics, elections and other social issues that will include the "Paid for by" wording, a source at Facebook confirmed.

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