Facebook allows U.S. political candidates to run sponsored content

FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Illustration/File Photo

Facebook Inc said on Friday it was allowing U.S.-based political candidates to run branded content on its social networking platforms, but the content would not be catalogued in its advertising library.

Political campaigns and groups can now use the social media company’s branded content tool, which allows influencers to more clearly tag in an official sub-header that the post is a paid partnership.

The change came after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg this week paid popular meme accounts on Facebook-owned Instagram to post content about the billionaire former New York mayor.

A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the Bloomberg campaign was not the only political campaign that had asked about the company’s policies regarding sponsored content.

The strategy of paying social media influencers to spread political messages or make content is gathering momentum ahead of the 2020 race, but rules around the practice have been hazy.

Facebook does not make money from branded or sponsored content, for which brands directly pay creators, so they do not count this as advertising. It does, however, ask content creators to comply with regulations to disclose paid partnerships.

Facebook said sponsored content from political advertisers will not be included in its Ad Library, a database maintained to provide transparency around political and other advertising unless the creator pays to promote the post using the company’s advertising tools.

Bloomberg’s Democratic rival Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized the fact that sponsored posts would not be publicly tracked.