Facebook has announced an update to its social issues ad policy that will essentially reduce the stringency of its social issues qualifiers, ensuring more ads can run without the ‘paid for by’ disclaimer notice.
As a recap, in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential Election, Facebook implemented a range of new restrictions and parameters around political and issues-based ads, in order to provide more transparency as to who’s funding and promoting pushes designed to influence public opinion.
A key element within this is the requirement that all advertisers who seek to run political or issue ads need to be verified.
As explained by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg:
“To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location. Any advertiser who doesn’t pass will be prohibited from running political or issue ads. We will also label them and advertisers will have to show you who paid for them.”
That, essentially, has meant that any Facebook ad relating to any social issue requires both verification and a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer note, which users can tap on to learn more about the company or organization behind these campaigns.
But now, Facebook’s looking to ease back on that slightly:
“Because the primary purpose of some of these ads is not to engage in advocacy, we’re changing the way we approach a subset of them. Advertisers will no longer be required to complete the authorization process or include a “Paid for by” disclaimer to run if we determine an ad includes the below three criteria:
- A product or service is prominently shown in use or named or referenced in the ad;
- The primary purpose of the ad is to sell a product or promote a service, even if the ad content includes advocacy for a social issue; and
- The ad content contains a call-to-action to purchase or use the product or service.”
So now, if an ad relates to a social issue, but is explicitly selling a product, as opposed to linking back to advocacy, it won’t come under the same regulation.
Facebook has provided a few examples to illustrate the change:
“No longer a social issue ad: “Our new show, “Our Only Future,” on how we can tackle climate change will premiere next month in your city. Purchase your early-bird tickets now for €10.”
Facebook says that because this ad promotes a product, and doesn’t advocate for a social issue specifically, this would no longer require authorization and the ‘paid for by’ disclaimer.
“Social issue ad: “Our leather patches just arrived. Each patch is embroidered with ‘Support refugees.’ Shop now!”
On the flip side, while this example does promote a product, it clearly states social issue advocacy messaging, so it would still require a disclaimer.
How that same process relates to, say, an image of a product that doesn’t include the specifics in the text, is probably harder to determine, but each ad is subject to review, and the basic push here is that brands can promote social issue related products and services, so long as the ad doesn’t specifically advocate for action or support, as such. If it does, then they can, of course, still run the ad, but they’ll need to go through the authorization process.
But even then, it seems a little confusing. Based on my reading of the three regulations noted above, this last example should actually not be classified as an issues ad, as it is focused on a product as its primary promotional CTA.
It seems likely that there will be some confusion, but the gist is that Facebook – or Meta – wants to make it easier for more brands to run more ads by reducing the onus on them to go through the more stringent steps to promote products that are tangentially related to social issues.
Honestly, it looks fairly spotty, and fairly open to misuse, but the Facebook ads team will take on responsibility for enforcement, which should hopefully limit any potential gray areas or misuse.
Though I wouldn’t bet on it. If, for example, I sell t-shirts that say ‘climate change is a hoax’, but I don’t include that in the caption text, and the ad is for a product, would that be able to slip through the newly formed cracks in this policy? And let’s say I’m working for the oil and gas lobby – wouldn’t that be an important disclaimer for transparency?
Either way, the policy has been updated, which will add new considerations for impacted advertisers and organizations.
You can read more about Facebook’s social issues ads policy here.
Ahead of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar
Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR
At a time when prickly questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon offers a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to explain its mysteries.
Known to his growing number of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny but mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic country.
The first World Cup in an Arab nation has put a spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights and even the use of air conditioning in stadiums.
Haroon’s cheerful #QTip videos broach everything from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the right way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headdress. There is also an edition on labour rights.
With less than 60 days to the November 20 start of the tournament, he now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.
Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports car being imported into what is now one of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Haroon carved out his niche by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its growing expat community — and now the hordes of football fans expected for the World Cup.
Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain — said he was first confronted by global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.
He had wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.
“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.
– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –
“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”
Haroon said there has to be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.
“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”
Some people, he said, have told him they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.
Haroon, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and an eSports entrepreneur, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.
His main grouse is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then believe that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.
Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries who will play in Qatar have raised concerns, however, about the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?
The government has insisted that beer, normally restricted, will be available and that everyone is welcome. Haroon wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality”, with its food and coffee culture.
“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” said Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”
“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.
“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”
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