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Facebook accused of electioneering

Agence France-Presse

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FACEBOOK sees next week’s election as a big test for it. / W. Commons

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Confusion reigned over political ads at Facebook that marred the onset of what was supposed to be a cooling-off period ahead of the US presidential election on 3 November.

Rival parties complained Facebook was undermining campaign efforts after blunders arose around a ban on new paid political ads being published in the week before Election Day.

“We’re investigating the issues of some ads being paused incorrectly, and some advertisers having trouble making changes to their campaigns,” Facebook product manager Rob Leathern said in a tweet when the ban kicked in.

Political ad publishers can sidestep the ban by getting the advertisements loaded into Facebook prior to the deadline, and then disseminating them to a wider audience later.

California-based Facebook has tightened its rules on political advertising ahead of the 2020 election in other ways too, including prohibiting attempts to undermine the electoral process.

In the Facebook paid posts library — a list viewable by the public — for President Donald Trump’s campaign, what appeared to be a victory ad is already visible.

And on Tuesday, senior media advisor for Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, Megan Clasen, tweeted a screen capture of a Trump Facebook ad showing a picture of the president and the message “Election Day Is Today.”

But the former vice president’s campaign had been told by Facebook they could not launch ads saying election day was “today” or even “tomorrow,” Clasen said in the tweet.

Democratic political strategist Eric Reif said on Twitter that he and others were working to have ads restored that had been mistakenly removed by Facebook.

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