As radio fights for campaign ad dollars in the 2020 election cycle, it is competing with a smaller Facebook footprint.
The social media giant this week said it will allow users in the U.S. to opt-out of seeing social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates or political action committees in their Facebook or Instagram feeds.
Facebook will start by giving a small group of users the ability to hide political ads before expanding the option to all U.S. users in the coming weeks.
“Everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wrote in an op-ed piece published in USA Today on Tuesday. “For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads. We’ll still remind you to vote.”
While the decision keeps Facebook in the political ad arena, it also diminishes the reach of those ads, allowing other media such as radio and TV to use their larger reach as a unique value proposition.
“The move allows Facebook to play both sides of a complicated debate about the role of political advertising on social media ahead of the November presidential election,” according to a New York Times story published Tuesday. “With the change, Facebook can continue allowing political ads to flow across its network, while also finding a way to reduce the reach of those ads and to offer a concession to critics who have said the company should do more to moderate noxious speech on its platform.”
Facebook’s move is the latest from a digital giant taking steps to address critics who say they should police or moderate political speech. In late December Spotify said it would “pause” political ad sales. “This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts,” the company said then, explaining, “At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in October that the social platform wouldn’t allow any political ads on the social network. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey said. And Google announced in November it would no longer allow highly targeted political ads.