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Facebook Eases Social Issues Ads Policy to Allow Product-Focused Ads to Run Without a Disclaimer

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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:

  1. A product or service is prominently shown in use or named or referenced in the ad;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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