- Facebook launched a new policy to prevent abuse of political ads in May. Anyone running political ads on the social network must be authorized to do so by confirming their identity and location.
- Facebook reviews the ads using a combination of artificial intelligence and human reviewers to determine whether they are meeting the criteria or not.
- According to a report in The New York Times, the new system seems to have some flaws, as Facebook has been mistakenly rejecting ads from local businesses, claiming that they contain political content when they do not.
There appears to be a major glitch in Facebook’s new policy for screening political ads, and it’s putting some local businesses’ noses out of joint.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Facebook has been mistakenly rejecting ads from local businesses, claiming that they contain political content when they do not.
The social-media platform recently made a rule that anyone running political ads on Facebook must be authorized to do so by confirming their identity and location. The goal is to prevent abuse of political ads like those that were linked to Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“Advertisers will be prohibited from running political ads – electoral or issue-based – until they are authorized,” the company said in April.
According to The Times, Facebook reviews the ads using a combination of artificial intelligence and human reviewers to determine whether they are meeting the criteria or not, which leaves room for error.
Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, told the Times that the review process wasn’t always working as planned.
“These are new policies, and it’s not going to be perfect at the start,” he said, adding: “We think it’s better than doing nothing at all.”
The Times listed a series of different businesses that have seen their ads rejected on political grounds, including a hair salon, a vegetarian restaurant, and children’s daycare center.
Michelle Benson, who runs a children’s daycare center in Shirley, New York, told the Times that she tried to spend $100 on an ad informing parents that she had openings for more children this summer.
“I will beat anyone’s rates and accommodate parents according to their schedule,” the advertisement said.
Despite the ad not having any reference to politics, Benson received a notification from Facebook that it had been rejected because she was not “authorized to run ads with political content.”
Other people have taken to social media to vent their frustrations:
I'm so unbelievably done with @facebook's algorithms. It just flagged a promotion I'm running for a job fair as "Political" and denied my ads. There's nothing in the text or image that have any kind of a political nature, none of the tags are political phrases, WHY!? pic.twitter.com/LuegL0bl2z
— Matthew Curtis (@CourtesyOfMatt) June 14, 2018
— HIVequal (@HIVequal) June 21, 2018
Facebook rejected one of my ads because they thought the hyphen in my “Do-nut” pun was violating their rules and confused their bots. I told them to have a sense of humor and the error was quickly reversed. #PunningProblems ????
— Erica Fetherston (@blairez) June 20, 2018