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FACEBOOK STANDS PAT

By Todd Horwitz 

Facebook Won’t Change Ad Policy

Defying pressure from Congress, Facebook said on Thursday that it would continue to allow political campaigns to use the site to target advertisements to particular slices of the electorate and that it would not police the truthfulness of the messages sent out.

The stance put Facebook, the most important digital platform for political ads, at odds with some of the other large tech companies, which have begun to put new limits on political ads. Facebook’s decision, telegraphed in recent months by executives, is likely to harden criticism of the company heading into this year’s presidential election.

Political advertising cuts to the heart of Facebook’s outsize role in society, and the company has found itself squeezed between liberal critics, who want it to do a better job of policing its various social media platforms, and conservatives, who say their views are being unfairly muzzled.

Facebook announced the non-change in its policies via a blog post Thursday, which it attributed to ad executive Rob Leathern. Echoing previous Facebook arguments about the company’s desire for more regulation, Leathern wrote that Facebook wants the US and other countries to set rules about political advertising.

“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies, which is why we are arguing for regulation that would apply across the industry,” Leathern wrote. “In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies. We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”

Reaction to Facebook’s policy broke down largely along party lines. The Trump campaign, which has been highly critical of any attempts by technology companies to regulate political advertising and has already spent more than $27 million on the platform, largely supported Facebook’s decision not to interfere in targeting ads or to set fact-checking standards.

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz

Todd Horwitz

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