First day of Facebook moratorium on new US political ads marked by glitches

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The first day of Facebook’s effort to stop fresh political advertising being introduced at the last stretch of US election campaigning has been indicated by complaints that the planned moratorium was beset by glitches.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty slammed the societal media giant on Tuesday, saying on Twitter its approaches broke”within seconds of launching the silly, performative pre-election hoop-jumping exercise.”

A Biden spokesman said an undisclosed amount of his campaign’s advertisements were affected.

Under pressure to crack down on misinformation and other abuses, Facebook said last month it would impose a moratorium – or temporary ban – to fresh political advertisements in the week before November the 3rd in an attempt to tamp down on misinformation on social media as Election Day approached.

The company ceased accepting new political or issue advertisements on Tuesday. Facebook stated it would enable pre-existing ads to operate throughout that period but would block any adjustments to the ads’ content or design.

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A Facebook spokeswoman declined to answer journalists questions, but Facebook’s director of product management Rob Leathern said on Twitter, “We’re investigating the topics of several advertisements being paused incorrectly, and some advertisers having difficulty making changes to their campaigns.”

A message circulated by Facebook to political digital strategists said a “subset of ads will reveal as paused” and blamed “data lags.”

Republican and Democratic digital strategists complained that the glitches were hurting campaigns at a critical moment.

“Votes are being throw daily,” said Mark Jablonowski, managing partner at DSPolitical, a digital firm that works with Democratic causes.

“So anytime that you are not able to communicate with voters in this vital window is time lost.”

He said that most of the Facebook ads of his roughly two dozen clients had been paused early this morning.

Ryan Morgan, the founder of Democratic digital advertising firm Veracity Media, said he’d heard of problems from several colleagues.

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Campaigns rushed to submit any ads they might need for the election period ahead of the moratorium, strategists have told Reuters in recent days.

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign started running pre-prepared ads touting GDP numbers that will not be released until Thursday.

Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it had rejected a pre-prepared Trump campaign ad that told users to “vote today,” because it did not have “the proper circumstance or emotion” – a breach of its policies.

The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to questions from journalists at our partner news agency Reuters.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Raphael Satter. Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.

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