Starting October 27, Facebook will prohibit new advertisements related to political and social issues for an undetermined amount of time. Previously, a political advertisement restriction was set to end after Election Day, but now it extends beyond November 3.
The restriction pertains to advertisements under the special category of political and social issues, which require a disclaimer of who it is sponsored by and for advertisers to have their identity verified. The update is meant to deter new advertising that may spread disinformation about election results. However, advertisements already running before October 27 will be allowed to continue.
What does this all mean for nonprofits? There are still some details that have not been communicated to the public, but October 27 is a critical date to know. If you are planning Facebook ads that fall in the special category of political and social issues, get those campaigns running by October 27. We have put together some questions and answers to help guide your nonprofit through this process.
What Advertisements Are Affected?
Facebook considers advertisements related to social issues, politics, and elections to be in a special category that need a "Paid for by" disclaimer to be run. The category includes ads by candidates and about ballot initiatives, but also, the "social issues" category includes education, civil rights, immigration, health, and more. See some examples here. Anyone running ads relating to these topics needs authorization by verifying their identity and organization with Facebook first.
What Can I Do to Get Authorized to Run Advertisements Related to Social Issues?
You need to verify your identity with Facebook. See the full steps to get authorized here, but to summarize, you'll need to do three things:
- Be the Page admin you're running ads from, or at least have an advertiser role on the page
- Have two-factor authentication enabled (this must be enabled; otherwise your ads will be rejected)
- Provide a valid ID (passport or driver's license) and a U.S.-based mailing address.
Due to the current situation with COVID-19 and the election, review times for the above have been known to exceed 48 hours. For this reason, it's important to start the authentication process as soon as possible. You can check on your authorization status here.
Even if you are not able to get authorized by October 27, having the authorization will be helpful and will decrease chances of ad rejection in the future.
When Will the Ban Be Lifted?
"We'll notify advertisers when this policy is lifted," Facebook stated on its website. This is an important time of year for nonprofits — year-end fundraising has begun for some or will begin soon, and Giving Tuesday is right around the corner. Keep a close eye on new updates from Facebook so you can be prepared to act as swiftly as possible.
What Can My Nonprofit Do Instead?
Advertisements that are not in the politics and social issue special category are still allowed, though still subject to Facebook's review process. You can refer to Facebook's own examples of what ads count or not within the special category. These examples may also help you write ads that could still be approved and run despite the political ad ban. The Facebook ad library is another resource to see advertisements that have been approved.
When in doubt, the broader the message, the better. Especially during the election, it's important that ads be as vague as possible to prevent the rejection process. Avoid using copy that could influence someone's opinion and that mentions current situations such as the pandemic or the election. Make sure your ads are crystal clear with your intentions. This way, if they are rejected by the automatic review, you can easily appeal without question.
What Will Happen to Campaigns Already Running?
You will still be able to make limited edits to any ads running by October 27. Edits allowed include pausing and unpausing campaigns that have at least one impression, changing the end date of a campaign, and editing the budget. To see more detail on what edits are allowed or not, you can see Facebook's guidelines here.
Keep Watch for More Updates and Get Support If You Need It
This is an evolving situation, and there may be times where specific information may be hard to find in the coming weeks. We recommend you watch out for official updates from Facebook. If you have any specific questions regarding advertising, one of the quickest ways to get a response is via live chat. Go to the Facebook Business Help Center to chat with a representative.
- Continue the conversation in the TechSoup Community Forums.
- Take TechSoup Courses' track on Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits.
- Find out Can I Tweet That? Charities and Social Media in an Election Year.
- See a webinar on How Voices of Women Help Us Advance Democracy.