After temporarily pausing its nationwide ban on political advertisements to allow campaign messages about the Georgia senate runoffs, Facebook abruptly reversed course on Tuesday, announcing in a blog post that the ban would resume following the election’s conclusion on Wednesday.
“Starting early January 6, 2021, we will no longer allow ads about the Georgia runoff elections on our platform in line with our existing nationwide social issues, electoral or political ads pause,” the company wrote in the blog post. “Any ads about the Georgia runoff elections will be paused and advertisers will no longer be able to create new ads about social issues, elections, or politics.”
In the wake of rampant misinformation campaigns that had proliferated on the platform following the November 2020 general election, Facebook had announced plans to clamp down on electoral and political ads of all stripes — a move which drew swift condemnation from digital strategists on both sides of the aisle, particularly over the decision’s likely impact on their ability to fundraise ahead of the competitive Georgia runoff.
Now, in light of the ban’s reinstatement, campaign strategists are once again worried — this time, about the obstacles the ban might pose in terms of getting the word out about a potential recount or “ballot curing” process, given the extreme likelihood of both events in what’s shaping up to be a real nail-biter of an election.
Although Google had initially instituted its own ban on political ads around the time that Facebook did, it lifted that ban entirely in mid-December of 2020. In the Tuesday blog post, Facebook warned political advertisers not to get their hopes up for another reversal anytime soon, saying that the ban is “part of our ongoing efforts to protect the integrity of the election and reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse.”
“We will notify advertisers when the pause is lifted,” the blog post adds.