Biden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform’s preelection blackout
The Biden campaign slammed Facebook on Thursday night after thousands of its ads were blocked due to a technical glitch in the platform’s preelection ban on political ads.
Facebook announced last month that it would ban new political advertisements in the week leading up to the Nov. 3 election in an effort to combat misinformation about voting.
The temporary ban went into effect on Tuesday, but the platform said it ran into “a number of unidentified issues” that caused ads to be paused that have already been running on Facebook, according to a Thursday blog post. The company went on to say that the glitch also prevented advertisers from making permissible changes to their ads.
“We have implemented changes to fix these issues, and most political ads are now running without any problems,” Facebook said.
The issues experienced on the platform have affected both the Biden and Trump campaigns, and have cut off messaging just days before the election, Politico reported. The Biden campaign said the error has caused the campaign to lose $500,000 in fundraising revenue, according to the outlet.
On Thursday night, Rob Flaherty, the Biden campaign’s digital director, lambasted Facebook in a statement first provided to Politico, saying the social media giant has “provided no clarity” on the issue, and that it has “no sense of the scale of the problem, who it is affecting, and their plan to resolve it.”
“It is currently unclear to us whether or not Facebook is giving Donald Trump an unfair electoral advantage in this particular instance, but it is abundantly clear that Facebook was wholly unprepared to handle this election despite having four years to prepare,” Flaherty said.
A thing worth highlighting here is that, like, 80% of the problems with facebook are on the organic side, not the ads side. This ads policy was largely a distraction, but they *still* are finding a way to get it wrong. https://t.co/y0cnwPabXG
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) October 30, 2020
The platform clarified that no ads were rejected due to “any partisan consideration,” adding that it has provided the same instructions to everyone confused about their guidance on ads.
“We have worked throughout this election to maintain a neutral playing field and that remains true in the face of these problems,” Facebook wrote.
The Trump campaign confirmed to Politico that some of their preapproved ads were pulled from Facebook. It is unclear if they were still dealing with the issue Thursday evening.
In a statement to The Hill, the Trump campaign accused Facebook of working against the president with its temporary ban, even though it applies to both candidates.
“First, Facebook banned President Trump from running new ads the entire final week of the campaign, limiting us from talking to voters about important issues… The Silicon Valley Mafia is now turning it up a notch, stopping us from running approved ads in the days before millions of Americans cast their ballots,” said Samantha Zager, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign.
“This is not a coincidence – Facebook is blocking our campaign ads that follow their own ridiculous rules, simply because they are working against President Trump. This not a bug, this is corporate election interference,” Zager added.
The Biden campaign has not responded to a request for comment.
Updated Oct. 30 at 10:40 a.m.