Facebook again clamping down on political ads

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Facebook early Wednesday clamped down on political ads about the two Georgia Senate runoff elections held Tuesday.

The platform announced that it is barring the ads “in line with our existing nationwide social issues, electoral or political ads pause.”

“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,” Facebook said.

Users can “continue to post organically and run ads that are not about social issues, elections, or politics and that do not require a disclaimer” and will have to reconfirm their authorizations and disclaimers for any ads on “US social issues, electoral or political ads.”

Facebook first banned any new political ads in late October in an effort to battle the spread of misinformation ahead of and after the Nov. 3 general elections. That ban was extended as President Trump and Republicans railed against the presidential election results, leveling unproven claims that widespread voter fraud and irregularities handed President-elect Joe Biden the victory.

Ads related to the Georgia runoffs were given the green light to run again on Dec. 15 in a partial lifting of Facebook’s ban.

Facebook has still not said when it will lift its nationwide temporary political ad ban, and its Tuesday announcement did not clarify when the prohibition on Georgia runoff ads would end. 

An analysis the nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz shared with The Hill on Monday found that nearly 100 ads released by the campaigns of Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and incumbent Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term ended on Sunday, the Republican Party and top GOP super PACs included claims that had been debunked by third party fact-checkers. Some ads from other conservative-leaning groups appeared to use “discriminatory and sensationalist content” that seemingly violated Facebook’s policies.

The reimposition of the Georgia ad ban comes in the aftermath of the two high-profile Senate runoffs that are set to determine control of the upper chamber.

Democrat Raphael Warnock is already projected to have defeated Loeffler and Jon Ossoff (D) currently holds a roughly 16,000-vote lead over Perdue, though that race is still too close to call.

Should Ossoff win, Democrats would hold a 50-50 majority in the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris having the ability to cast tie-breaking votes. His win would also mean that President-elect Joe Biden would enter office with Democratic control of both chambers of Congress, easing his path to passing legislative priorities and confirming members of his administration.

Tags 2020–21 United States Senate election in Georgia David Perdue Donald Trump Facebook Joe Biden Jon Ossoff Kelly Loeffler Raphael Warnock

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