Making Science

Facebook reportedly considering ban on political ads

Tyrone Stewart


Facebook may be lining up a blanket ban on political ads ahead of the US presidential election in November, as the tech giant looks to avoid a repeat of the scandal that surrounded the last presidential election.

According to Bloomberg, citing sources, the ban is only in the discussion stage and a decision has not yet been made. Any move would help to stop the spread of misleading election-related content from those looking to interfere in the process, but could also damage any pushes to get people out to vote.

Facebook has been heavily criticised for its approach to political ads and hasn’t managed to gain many fans since its failings around international electoral interference and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Its policy of not fact-checking political ads has been widely slammed by people in all corners, and any shift a way from this policy would be a big change in the attitudes of the platform.

Currently, as the coronavirus pandemic rolls on, advertising on platforms like Facebook is even more effective than previously – with people forced to stay indoors more and the lack of campaign rallies.

There is also concern that any blanket ban on political ads would work heavily in favour of Donald Trump’s re-election bid. Alex Stamos, the man formerly in charge of Facebook’s security, tweeted his belief that a ban would only benefit “those with money, incumbency or the ability to get media coverage.”

According to Facebook’s own data, Trump and his opponent, Joe Biden, have spent a combined $29.2m on ads in the last three months. This figure would represent just a small amount of the over $17bn made by Facebook in advertising revenue last quarter.