Facebook Resumes Nationwide Political Ad Ban Following Senate Runoffs

Facebook Resumes Nationwide Political Ad Ban Following Senate Runoffs
Facebook logo displayed on a tablet in Lille, France, on Aug. 28, 2019. (Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Facebook says it has reinstated its political advertising ban as part of the company's efforts to fight misinformation, after partly easing the restriction ahead of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia.

In an update to a blog post explaining the platform's political ads policy, Facebook on Jan. 5 said Georgia users will join the rest of the United States to be subject to the ban on political ads. The nationwide ban had been temporarily lifted in Georgia to allow messages of candidates competing for Georgia's two U.S. Senate seats to reach more voters.

"Following the Georgia runoff election, starting early January 6, 2021, we will no longer allow ads about the Georgia runoff elections on our platform in line with our existing nationwide social issues, electoral or political ads pause," the post reads. "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."

Users are encouraged to "post organically" and run ads that aren't about social issues, elections, or politics, the social media company added.

The political ads ban on Facebook was introduced at the beginning of October 2020 and took effect after the November presidential election, as part of what the company called an effort to "combat misinformation and other abuses on the platforms." Facebook extended the ban in mid-November when President Donald Trump challenged the election results based on claims of widespread voter fraud.

On Dec. 16, 2020, Facebook exclusively reopened political advertising for users in Georgia, citing "feedback from experts and advertisers across the political spectrum about the importance of expressing voice." The ban remained effective for the rest of the country.

Facebook's move comes as Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock has declared victory in the runoff race against Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who said there's still a "path to victory." The other runoff election, in which Republican candidate David Perdue faced Democrat Jon Ossoff, was said to be too close to call as counting was continuing on Jan. 6.

Warnock, a pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, claimed himself the winner in a live-streamed video early on Jan. 6.

"Georgia, I am honored by the faith that you've shown in me and I promise you this: tonight, I am going to the Senate to work for all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election," he said in the video.

He said he had "proved that with hope, hard work, and the people by our side, anything is possible."

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