sunny.png
Friday February 21st, 2020 5:16PM

Facebook reverses on paid influencers after Bloomberg memes

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook has decided to let political campaigns pay online influencers to spread their messages, a practice that had sidestepped many of the social network's rules governing political ads.

Friday's policy reversal highlights difficulties tech companies and regulators have in keeping up with the changing nature of paid political messages.

The change comes days after Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg exploited a loophole to run humorous messages promoting his campaign on the accounts of popular Instagram personalities followed by millions of younger people.

The Bloomberg posts weren’t much more than self-deprecating humor used to sell the candidate’s old guy appeal, using a tactic that until now was largely used to sell skin care products or clothing-subscription services. But the lack of oversight and clear rules around influencer marketing, not to mention their effectiveness in reaching younger audiences, makes them ripe for misuse.

Bloomberg's effort skirted many of the rules that tech companies have imposed on political ads to safeguard U.S. elections from malicious foreign and domestic interference and misinformation. Online political ads have been controversial, especially after it was revealed Russia used them in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. In response, Facebook has rolled out a number of rules to prevent a repeat of that, though it has declined to fact-check political ads and refuses to ban even blatently false messages from politicians.

Before the explosion of social media, it was clearer what's an ad and what isn't — and thus what's subject to disclosures and other rules. With social media, a campaign can pay celebrities and other influential users to spread a message on their behalf, without ever buying an ad and be subject to its rules.

“This is a new kind of activity that simply didn’t exist when the rules for internet political communications were last updated,” said Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub of the Federal Election Commission.

Friday's policy change involves what Facebook calls “branded content” — sponsored items posted by ordinary users who are typically paid by companies or organizations. Advertisers pay the influential users directly to post about their brand.

Facebook doesn't make money directly from such posts and doesn't consider them advertising. As a result, branded content wasn't governed by Facebook's advertising policies, which require candidates and campaigns to verify their identity with a U.S. ID or mailing address and disclose how much they spent running each ad.

Until Friday, Facebook tried to deter campaigns from using such branded content by barring them from using a tool designed to help advertisers run such posts on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The rule change now allows campaigns in the U.S. to use this tool, provided they've been authorized by Facebook to run political ads and disclose who paid for the sponsored posts. Campaigns that avoid using the tool, as Bloomberg had, risk having their accounts suspended.

“After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there’s a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms,” Facebook said in an exclusive statement to The Associated Press. “We’re allowing U.S.-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content.”

Politicians still won’t be required to disclose how much they paid the influencers to run the posts. And the posts won't appear in Facebook's ad library, which publicly catalogs political ads and allows other campaigns, journalists and watchdog groups to view the type of messages politicians are pushing in the election.

Facebook's new rules won't apply to someone merely creating or sharing a post about a politician without getting paid.

Facebook said it is asking the influencer accounts that posted the Bloomberg memes to retroactively use the tool meant for such posts. After this happens, the posts will be labeled as a “paid partnership” with Bloomberg.

Google says it doesn't allow political messages using its main tools for connecting with influencers, but campaigns can make individual arrangements with YouTube influencers. These videos would be covered under general disclosure rules, but would not be added to Google's political advertising database.

The Bloomberg campaign had taken the unconventional step of paying social media influencers — individuals with huge followings — to post Bloomberg memes using their Instagram accounts. Different versions of the sponsored posts from the Bloomberg campaign ran on more than a dozen influential Instagram accounts, each of which have millions of followers.

The Bloomberg campaign's memes showed the 78-year-old candidate, in a tongue-in-cheek awkward fashion, chatting with popular social media influencers with names like “Tank Sinatra," asking them to help him raise his profile among younger folk.

“Can you post a meme that lets everyone know I’m the cool candidate?” Bloomberg wrote in one of the exchanges posted by an Instagram account with nearly 15 million followers. The candidate then sent a photo of him wearing baggy chino shorts, an orange polo and a zip-up vest. The reply: “Ooof that will cost like a billion dollars.” The billionaire candidate responded by asking where to send the money.

With the sponsored posts, Bloomberg’s campaign said it was reaching those who might not be normally interested in the day-to-day of politics.

"You want to engage people at every platform and you want them to feel like they're not just getting a canned generic statement,” campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said of the campaign's strategy.

The Bloomberg campaign declined to say how much it paid for the sponsored posts, or if it had more in the works.

___

Seitz reported from Chicago. AP Technology Writer Rachel Lerman in San Francisco contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Feds probing how personal Medicare info gets to marketers
A government watchdog says it's launching a probe of how telemarketers may be getting hold of seniors’ personal Medicare information, aided by apparent misuse of a government system
12:45PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Amid coronavirus fears, a second wave of flu hits US kids
A second wave of flu is hitting the U.S., turning this into one of the nastiest seasons for children in a decade
12:43PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Facebook reverses on paid influencers after Bloomberg memes
Facebook has decided to allow a type of paid political message that had sidestepped many of the social network's rules governing political ads
12:43PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump ignores AG Barr's request to stop tweeting about DOJ
President Donald Trump is ignoring his attorney general's public request to stop tweeting about the Justice Department
12:12PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Valentine's Day brings love and some worry in Iraq holy city
This Valentine’s season, Hasanain al-Rufaye is busy in his Najaf, Iraq, flower shop, wrapping bouquets and stuffing dolls into gift boxes
12:06PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Official says US, Taliban reach Afghanistan truce agreement
A senior U.S. official says the United States and the Taliban have reached a truce agreement that will take effect “very soon” and could lead to withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan
12:05PM ( 51 minutes ago )
AP National News
Virus infects more than 1,700 health workers in China, 6 die
A Chinese health official says more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the new virus and six have died
8:49AM ( 4 hours ago )
With virus, shops in China suffer a star-crossed Valentines
In virus-stricken China, couples can celebrate Valentine's Day with a roast beef salad, hot chocolate, a rose and a note, all delivered to their door
8:42AM ( 4 hours ago )
2020 Democrats step up attacks to blunt Bloomberg's rise
Democratic presidential candidates hoping to revive their flagging campaigns are increasingly taking aim at Mike Bloomberg
7:30AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Official says US, Taliban reach truce Afghan truce agreement
A senior U.S.official says the United States and the Taliban have reached a truce agreement that will take effect “very soon” and could lead to withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan
11:25AM ( 1 hour ago )
EU chief unveils budget plan setting scene for tense summit
A top European Union official unveiled Friday his proposal for the bloc's next long-term budget
11:16AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pompeo, Esper meet Afghan president on cusp of Taliban deal
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have met with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani amid signs a truce between the United States and the Taliban is imminent
10:36AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
New Mexico bid for recreational marijuana is all but doomed
New Mexico's bid to become the 12th U.S. state to legalize recreational use of marijuana abruptly fell flat after state senators in a legislature dominated by Democrats rejected a bill that would have forced permission for sales in all of the state's cities and towns
7:49PM ( 17 hours ago )
Barr: Trump tweets on cases make it 'impossible' to do job
Attorney General William Barr took a public swipe at President Donald Trump, saying that the president’s tweets about Justice Department prosecutors and cases “make it impossible for me to do my job
7:16PM ( 17 hours ago )
Trump Fed nominee Shelton faces skepticism at Senate hearing
One of President Donald Trump's nominees for the Federal Reserve has come under sharp questioning from senators over her unorthodox economic views, Among the skeptics were two Republicans whose doubts about her nomination could imperil it
7:06PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Democrats step up attacks to blunt Michael Bloomberg's rise
Democratic presidential candidates hoping to revive their flagging campaigns are increasingly taking aim at Michael Bloomberg
8:12PM ( 16 hours ago )
Smollett case could complicate reelection of top prosecutor
The decision by a grand jury to restore charges against Jussie Smollett could bedevil the reelection bid of the first black woman to hold Chicago's top law enforcement job
7:56PM ( 17 hours ago )
Pence pokes fun at slow caucus count while in South Carolina
Vice President Mike Pence has turned a South Carolina trip into an opportunity to rail on Democrats for their failed attempt to oust President Donald Trump from office and for having difficulty tabulating results following last week's Iowa caucuses
7:21PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Elections
In South, Bloomberg aims to move past stop-and-frisk remarks
Michael Bloomberg is on a two-day campaign swing through the South
6:03AM ( 1 day ago )
2020 hopefuls eye Super Tuesday even as 2 other states loom
Nevada votes next, then South Carolina
5:53AM ( 1 day ago )
Democrats seek path through diverse states after Iowa and NH
Democratic presidential candidates are plotting their paths forward into a primary expanding to include voters of color, while the party's establishment braces for a long and uncertain nomination fight
12:14AM ( 1 day ago )
General Election News
Wanted: Texas Republicans need new voters in 2020, and fast
Big Republican donors in Texas are spending millions of dollars in 2020 looking for new votes
11:59AM ( 1 day ago )
Nevada union might not endorse, but it isn't staying quiet
Nevada's most politically powerful union, the casino workers' Culinary Union, is so far staying quiet on whether it will endorse a candidate as the Democratic presidential race swings west, but Joe Biden isn't counting on the labor group's help
8:03PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: More than 451,000 ballots cast in New Hampshire
More than 451,000 ballots were cast in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary
5:05PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
US stocks edge higher in midday, head for weekly gains
U.S. stocks edged higher in midday trading Friday as investors focused on another round of mostly solid corporate earnings
11:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
Cruise stranded by virus fears ends with roses in Cambodia
Hundreds of cruise ship passengers long stranded at sea by virus fears have finally disembarked in Cambodia, where they were welcomed by the nation's authoritarian leader who handed them flowers
11:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
Negative interest rates turn saving, borrowing upside down
These are strange times for borrowers and savers
10:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
AP VoteCast: NH Democrats angry, seek alternative to Trump
Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary were angry at President Donald Trump's administration and eager to pick the candidate most likely to oust him from office
12:40PM ( 2 days ago )
AP VoteCast: Young, liberal voters key to Sanders’ NH win
AP VoteCast shows Bernie Sanders won the young, the liberal and the disaffected in New Hampshire
12:33PM ( 2 days ago )
Sanders edges Buttigieg in NH, giving Dems 2 front-runners
Bernie Sanders has won New Hampshire’s presidential primary election, narrowly edging moderate rival Pete Buttigieg and scoring the first clear victory in the Democratic Party’s chaotic 2020 nomination fight
6:18AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Iowa Democratic Party chairman resigns after caucus chaos
The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party has resigned after a disastrous caucus process beset by technical glitches led to a dayslong delay in reporting the results, inconsistencies in the numbers and no clear winner
7:02PM ( 1 day ago )
Klobuchar surged in New Hampshire. Can she make it count?
Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar is hoping her strong third-place finish in New Hampshire will provide enough momentum to be competitive in Nevada and the states that come next in the nominating contest
2:21PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Iowa Dems approve recanvass request for caucuses
The Iowa Democratic Party has approved requests from Pete Buttigieg's and Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns for a partial recanvass of the Iowa caucus results
2:18PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Feds probing how personal Medicare info gets to marketers
A government watchdog says it's launching a probe of how telemarketers may be getting hold of seniors’ personal Medicare information, aided by apparent misuse of a government system
12:45PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Amid coronavirus fears, a second wave of flu hits US kids
A second wave of flu is hitting the U.S., turning this into one of the nastiest seasons for children in a decade
12:43PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Prosecutor: Weinstein saw victims as 'complete disposables'
Prosecutors began their closing argument Friday at Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial by saying he believed he was so powerful he could get away with denigrating aspiring actresses drawn into a world where he considered them “complete disposables
12:43PM ( 14 minutes ago )
US appeals panel upholds block of Medicaid work requirements
A federal appeals court panel in Washington has upheld a lower court's decision that blocked the Trump administration's work requirements for Medicaid recipients
12:41PM ( 15 minutes ago )
US closes case against ex-FBI boss McCabe with no charges
Federal prosecutors have declined to charge former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, closing an investigation into whether he lied to federal officials about his involvement in a news media disclosure
12:38PM ( 18 minutes ago )