- Facebook pulled ads from Walmart and Procter & Gamble (P&G) because they contained political themes but did not include a "paid for by" label now mandated under the platform's policies, according to a report in Ad Age. Walmart's ad discussed "bringing jobs back" to America, while P&G's was for LGBTQ pride and the marketer's "commitment to inclusion."
- Facebook detailed its reasoning for pulling each of the ads in its new political ads archive, but later reversed its decision on the Walmart ad, per Ad Age. "The aim of this policy and authorization process is increased authenticity for political ads on Facebook," a spokeswoman said in an emailed comment to Ad Age. "It won't be perfect to start — we'll learn and evolve over time — but we think the good far outweighs the bad."
- Facebook announced new policies last week that require disclosure for the source of every ad. This enables users to see what ads brands are running at a given time across Facebook's platforms. Political ads will be open for public scrutiny and archived for seven years.
Facebook's new policy around political labeling is an attempt to bring greater transparency to the platform's advertising and who funds particular campaigns, but the change is already off to a rocky start, and in a way that might alarm marketers. As brands continue to focus on more cause- and purpose-driven campaigns, including subject matter like LGBTQ representation or fostering job growth might be riskier if Facebook starts to flag down and remove any such ads without enough warning.
"This is not a political ad," P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose told Ad Age around the news. "We're disappointed by the decision and working with Facebook to understand how to navigate their new policy."
These changes come at a tricky time for marketers, as consumers increasingly expect brands to take a stance on social and political issues. Two-thirds of surveyed consumers believe it's important that brands take public stances on areas such as immigration, civil rights and race relations, according to a January report from the firm Sprout Social.
It's possible that Facebook is simply casting too broad a net with its new policies, extending the idea of "political ads" past campaigns for government positions and those backed by actual political groups to encompass any messaging around potentially touchy subject matter. Facebook has continued to introduce measures to boost transparency on its platform following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when the company discovered that groups backed by Russia were setting up fake profiles to spread false information and sway voters.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter recently launched an Ad Transparency Center letting users see the creative for all ad campaigns that have run over the last seven days from a specific handle. Details like billing information, ad spend, impression data and demographic targeting are on display for U.S. political advertisers that fall under Twitter's Political Campaigning Policy.