- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Facebook announced Tuesday it will lift its pause on political advertising in the U.S. to accommodate candidates running for the Senate next month in special runoff elections being held in Georgia.

Starting early Wednesday, Facebook said advertisers authorized to run ads on its platform about social issues, elections or politics will be able to run ads specifically targeting Georgia voters.

The decision will effectively open new avenues for incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue, Georgia Republicans, and their Democratic challengers Rafael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

Facebook announced before last month’s elections that it would temporarily stop running political ads in the U.S. once voting ended to “reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse” on its platform.

Sarah Schiff, a product manager for Facebook, said the social network recently heard feedback from experts and advertisers alike about the importance of reading voters ahead of Georgia’s runoffs.

“We agree that our ad tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections,” she said in a statement. “So we have developed a process to allow advertisers to run ads with the purpose of reaching voters in Georgia about Georgia’s runoff elections.”

Facebook explained that advertisers wishing to run ads on its platforms in Georgia must fill out an online form to become eligible. Those submissions will be reviewed within 48 hours, per Facebook.

Eligible advertisers will accordingly be able to submit new ads starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT, Facebook added, creating a three-week window for the candidates to promote their campaigns there.

“We will prioritize onboarding advertisers with direct involvement in these elections, including the campaigns, state and local elections officials, and state and national political parties,” Ms. Schiff said in the statement.

Facebook will reject ads that target locations outside of Georgia, are not about the election or includes content debunked by third-party fact-checkers or delegitimizes the elections, she added.

Republicans currently maintain a slim majority of Democrats in the Senate, and the outcome of the special elections next month will decide whether that remains true with the upcoming 117th Congress.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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