On May 24, Facebook announced new rules around political ads being posted on the social networking site. In an effort to limit fake news being dispensed as fact, anyone posting promoted content that Facebook defines as political must first verify their identity and location. Ads that are flagged by Facebook’s technology must meet specific guidelines and be accompanied by information about the publisher. Users will be able to click through to obtain more information.
What does this mean for your organization?
If you work for a nonprofit that uses paid ads on Facebook, you may have noticed that some of your ads are being flagged or disapproved as political content. Facebook defines political content very broadly as any ad that, “Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run.” More specifically, Facebook identified twenty issues that will require advertiser authorization. Those issues are: abortion, budget, civil rights, crime, economy, education, energy, environment, foreign policy, government reform, guns, health, immigration, infrastructure, military, poverty, social security, taxes, terrorism, values.
Topics as broad as “education,” “environment,” “health,” and “civil rights,” mean any ads with keywords related to these topics are likely to be flagged even if they don’t mention specific policies, legislation, or political candidates. Running ads to promote a run/walk for cancer research or using ads to reach low-income residents who are eligible for SNAP benefits might not seem “political” but they may in fact fall within Facebooks broad policy guidelines.
What steps do I need to take now?
If your organization does post ads that fit this broad definition of political content, Facebook checks for three criteria:
- Is the individual publisher authorized to purchase political ads?
- Does the page connected to the ad account have an authorized administrator?
- Is the “This ad includes political content” box checked?
Based on these requirements, any organizations that are not robots or Russian spies need to take steps to get authorized. First, any individuals on your staff who are publishing the ads need to:
- Enable two-step authentication on their account
- Provide their name, residential mailing address, and last four digits of their social security number
- Upload an image of their driver’s license or passport
- Enter the code sent to them via mail
According to Facebook this information is necessary to make sure that individuals are really who they say they are and this data will be discarded and not permanently stored.
Advertisers can then link their organization page with their ad account or any accounts of authorized administrators. Finally, publishers will need to create a custom disclaimer for their company or organization. (Disclaimer creation instructions can be found here.)
How will my ads look different?
Once an individual is authorized and has connected their ad account to an organization’s page, they will see the option to check a box that says, “This ad includes political content” when creating ads. If an ad references any of the 20 issues listed above, that box should be checked. Ads that are marked as political will appear with “Paid for by” text that links to the organization’s information and disclaimer.
One important detail to remember is that at the moment this verification process affects only ads. Non-promoted news stories and timeline posts are not currently included, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be some day.
While this policy does create a number of new hoops to jump through, in the end it’s a step in the right direction to create more transparency on a platform that many people use as their primary news source.
To learn more about policy guidelines and what qualifies as “political content,” click here. For an overview of how to complete the authorization process including step-by-step instructions click here. If you need Facebook ad support, including assistance with the verification process, click here to send us a message today.