Facebook and Google, which previously instituted moratoria on political advertising on their platforms following the closing of polls on Election Day, are extending the bans for at least the next few weeks to curb the spread of election misinformation.
The moves come as President Trump and his allies continue to dispute the results of the U.S. presidential election, alleging without credible evidence that voting in key states was subject to fraud. Major news organizations projected Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 race on Saturday, and president-elect Biden has already been putting plans in place for his new administration.
In an update Wednesday, Facebook said that the “pause for ads about politics and social issues in the U.S. continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election.” The social giant said it expects the ban will last another month, “though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner.” Facebook in early October had announced an indefinite ban on political ads after Nov. 3.
Google reps, meanwhile, have told advertisers that the internet giant probably will hold off on running political ads at least through the end of 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The decisions by Facebook and Google to extend their political-ad bans were slammed as “unacceptable voter suppression” by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which cited the pivotal runoff elections in Georgia set for Jan. 5 that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Those will pit incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively.
“These ad bans are voter suppression plain and simple, they directly benefit Republican senators, and at a minimum there should be an exemption for ads in Georgia over the next two months,” DSCC executive director Scott Fairchild said in a statement. “Organic disinformation is the actual problem on these platforms, and continuing to ban ads is now actively harmful to organizations working to inform Georgia’s diverse voters about the January runoffs.”
In a Twitter thread Wednesday, Facebook director of product management Rob Leathern wrote, “We know that people are disappointed that we can’t immediately enable ads for runoff elections in Georgia and elsewhere.” He added, “We do not have the technical ability in the short term to enable political ads by state or by advertiser, and we are also committed to giving political advertisers equal access to our tools and services.”
In the U.S., Facebook and Instagram continue to append labels to candidate posts stating that Biden is the projected winner of the presidential election, Leathern noted.
Twitter, where Trump has his biggest social-media following, banned political ads a year ago.