- The Washington Times - Friday, October 30, 2020

Facebook’s decision to restrict new political and issue ads in the final week before Election Day caused technical glitches and confused political campaigns.

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden’s campaign was furious at Facebook Thursday because the campaign thought it was abiding by the rules for ads, only to find it was getting slapped while it did not think that President Trump’s campaign had experienced the same issues.

Facebook set a deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 27, for new political and issue ads, after which the company would not permit new ads in those categories through Election Day.

Megan Clasen, Biden campaign media adviser, tweeted that a Biden campaign ad saying he would not raise taxes was restricted while Mr. Trump’s ad saying Mr. Biden would raise taxes remained active despite both ads beginning to run before Facebook’s Tuesday deadline.

“To put the FB issues into context, Trump is running ads that say that Biden’s tax plan will cause a 14% increase for middle class families and our ad clarifies that he won’t raise taxes on anyone making <$400K is currently rejected on certain key targeting tracks,” Ms. Clasen tweeted.

Ms. Clasen shared screenshots of the ads in question, and the Biden campaign ad she posted appeared to be running as of Friday morning, according to the Facebook Ad Library. A majority of the ad’s audience was women, and it was specifically targeted to Facebook users in the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to the ad library.

Facebook on Thursday acknowledged in a statement on its website that its new policy created problems and headaches for advertisers on its platform.

“Even though the majority of political and issue ads have been unaffected, since the restriction took effect, we have identified a number of unanticipated issues affecting campaigns of both parties,” Facebook said in a statement on the company’s blog. “Some were technical problems. Others were because advertisers did not understand the instructions we provided about when and how to make changes to ad targeting. We have implemented changes to fix these issues, and most political ads are now running without any problems.”

Facebook’s statement added that the company is continuing to monitor the ad problems to ensure that its fixes solve advertisers’ problems.

After Facebook announced that it had developed fixes, Ms. Clasen tweeted that the Biden campaign remained worried that the manual fixes left room for “partisan treatment in which issues are being prioritized.”

Facebook, however, disputed that any political bias had interfered with its policy and said it has worked to remain neutral throughout the 2020 campaign season.

“No ad was paused or rejected by a person, or because of any partisan consideration,” Facebook said on its blog. “The technical problems were automated and impacted ads from across the political spectrum and both Presidential campaigns. Likewise, with respect to our communication about how to make targeting changes, we provided the same instructions to everyone, and found advertisers across the political spectrum and both Presidential campaigns were confused by our guidance and had ads paused as a result.”

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