Politics

Facebook Is Trying To Reduce Political Advertising Sales Ahead Of 2020 Elections

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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Matt M. Miller Contributor

As the 2020 election approaches, Facebook says that it has stopped paying employees commissions for the sale of political ads on the social media platform.

Facebook now considers political advertisements on its platform a substantial liability in the context of the 2016 presidential election, according to former Facebook employees and digital campaign strategists, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The alleged Russian meddling in the U.S’s 2016 election has raised concerns about the role of political ads on the platform, leading to discussion among Facebook senior staff as to whether to nix political advertisements altogether, according to more former employees.

A March 2018 Facebook Newsroom release acknowledges that an all-inclusive ban on political Facebook advertisements may be the only way to ensure that there is no foreign interference in elections.

Facebook, Phone Silhouette, Shutterstock

Facebook, Phone Silhouette, Shutterstock

Mark Zuckerberg decided that the company will continue selling political ads on Facebook, but incentives for selling them will no longer continue, a former employee source told the WSJ. Employees who previously earned commissions through the selling of political ad space will now have their base salaries raised instead, Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global elections public policy director, said.

Harbath explains that the company now views political campaign ads as a civic responsibility rather than a profit-driving opportunity. Political advertisements make up a relatively small proportion of Facebook’s total revenue, constituting $55 billion of Facebook’s revenue in 2018, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Franklin Graham Claims He Was Banned From Facebook)

All users will have the same level of access and support concerning political ads, and the new compensation policy will affect ads from national to local campaign levels, attempting to avoid the accusation that Facebook is favoring particular political factions and not others, Harbath explains.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re running for president or running for city council. You have access to the same tools and level of support,” Harbath said.

Some presidential campaigns have noticed a difference in services rendered by Facebook staffers amid the implementation of the new policy, while others still work with Facebook employees beyond the scope of what is available to normal customers, digital campaign staffers allege according to the WSJ.

In 2016, both Facebook and Google offered substantial advertising services to the Trump and Clinton campaigns that surpassed what was available to smaller campaigns. The Trump campaign especially capitalized on these services given its smaller and less experienced digital campaigning staff.

Facebook’s shift in compensation policy has had noticeable benefits for smaller campaigns, making help more available than it has been recently for these small, low spending customers, according to Patrick O’Keefe, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.

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