Facebook's new political rules block ads for businesses with Bush, Clinton in name

Facebook's new political rules block ads for businesses with Bush, Clinton in name
© Getty Images

Facebook’s new algorithms for spotting political advertisements are inadvertently blocking ads for businesses that share the same names as famous politicians.


Advertisers told Bloomberg that their ads mentioning the word “bush” have been flagged as political content, even if they are completely unrelated to politics.

The company’s filters took down an ad from a Walmart in Beeville, Texas, advertising a sale on cans of Bush’s Beans.

In another instance, Facebook took down an ad from a lawn-mowing service in South Dakota advertising bush trimming.

Under Facebook's new rules for political ads, the ads are taken down until advertisers can verify themselves. The ads are also added to an archive of all political ads on the platform. The changes are intended to improve transparency around political advertisements.

Clinton, a common name for American towns, is also triggering the algorithm, Bloomberg found. Businesses from such towns that include the word in their name, like iPawn Clinton, have had their ads taken down.

Facebook recently moved to restrict political and issue ads for topics such as immigration, the economy and other issues.

Other apolitical groups have been lumped into Facebook’s new tighter rules.

The company has forced political news stories from media publishers to undergo the same vetting and restrictions as political ads.

“We decided that our goal is transparency,’’ Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told reporters last week. “So we are just erring on the side of being more transparent.’’