Political Ads Come Under Fire As TikTok, Facebook, Others Enforce, Update Policies

Social site TikTok says it will ban all political paid ads from running across its network in light of the current climate.  

“Any paid ads that come into the community need to fit the standards for our platform, and the nature of paid political ads is not something we believe fits the TikTok platform experience,” Blake Chandlee, VP of global business solutions at TikTok, wrote in a blog post. “We will not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, current leader, political party or group, or issue at the federal, state, or local level - including election-related ads, advocacy ads, or issue ads.”

While it might make sense for some platforms to refuse the revenue, Facebook last week changed its policy for political ads in a way that some say will allow politicians to lie because they are now exempt from fact-checking policies.

It all came to a head after Nick Clegg, VP of global affairs and communications at Facebook, wrote in a post that the company will treat content from politicians as “newsworthy,” which means when “someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm.”

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When Facebook makes a determination about newsworthiness, the company evaluates the value of the speech for public interest versus the risk of harm. 

Twitter pulled a tweet by President Donald Trump for using a Nickelback music video, “Photograph,” in a tweet Wednesday. The now-deleted video showed band member Chad Kroeger holding a picture frame showed a 2014 photo of Joe and Hunter Biden on a golf course with Devon Archer, a colleague of Hunter identified as “Ukraine gas exec.”

Twitter disabled the video in Trump’s tweet after Warner Music Group, owner of the record label that released Nickelback’s “Photograph,” sent the social network a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice citing copyright infringement.

CNN this week declined to run two Trump campaign ads. One, about former U.S. Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden, is called "Biden Corruption." The other is called "Coup." The network said it declined to run the ads based on what it called false claims.

Google, however, has shown no sign of turning away financial gains. Political advertising on Google continues to grow across its network since the company began sharing on May 31, 2018 the amount each candidate or organization spends.

The political Transparency Report, which is updated weekly, includes ads purchased through Google Ads and Google Display & Video 360. 

The Trump Make America Great Again Committee to date has spent $7,062,400 for 27,295 ads running across Google’s network. Google requires an application to run ads, and states in its process that it can take between three and five business days to verify an organization or individual.

This data shows the most common keywords for U.S. federal election ads as being “elizabeth warren” at $1,243,600; “pete buttigieg” at $929,500; “kamala harris: at $877,700; “beto o’rourke” at $671,600; “tulsi gabbard” at $501,600; and “joe biden” at $400,000.

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