Everything is Political These Days, Especially to Facebook - America's Future Foundation

January 14, 2020

Communication

Everything is Political These Days, Especially to Facebook

By: Kristine Goffos

As a marketer, I have a love-hate relationship with social media.

At AFF, we love connecting with our community on Facebook; it allows us to keep in touch and start conversations when we might not get to connect with you in person. But we all know that these days, you have to pay to play the Facebook game. How many pages do you follow, whose content you never see, until one of their ads pops up in your feed?

When it comes to reaching new audiences, Facebook ads have been really helpful at connecting people with a network of new friends. I love hearing testimonies like this one from a member in our newly-launched Phoenix chapter:

“I have been looking for new opportunities to network with young professionals who believe the same things I do and by clicking your Facebook Ad, it was as if you were looking for me too.”

But once again, Facebook has taken it upon itself to judge content for its users. Facebook is releasing updates to ad transparency again. (Honestly, I’ve lost count of how many times they’ve updated ad policies and procedures since 2016.)

Part of the latest announcement reads:

See fewer political ads: Seeing fewer political and social issue ads is a common request we hear from people. That’s why we plan to add a new control that will allow people to see fewer political and social issue ads on Facebook and Instagram. This feature builds on other controls in Ad Preferences we’ve released in the past, like allowing people to see fewer ads about certain topics or remove interests.

You may read “see fewer political ads” and think, “Awesome, I hate politics. I don’t want to see that crap anyway,” and immediately go to your ad preferences control and disable them. But, beware of what else you’ll be hiding from yourself in the process.

Did you know that pretty much everything AFF does falls into this category?

Yep, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit that doesn’t partake in any political activity, most of our content is considered “political” by Facebook.

Because “political ads” aren’t simply campaign ads anymore; they’re now “political and social issue ads” all looped into one. And do you know what “social issues” includes? Absolutely everything under the sun: civil and social rights, crime, economy, education, environmental politics, guns, health, immigration, security and foreign policy, and, my personal favorite, political values and governance.

“Political values.”

So the fun social gathering we might call a “Liberty Happy Hour” where you can come network with other “liberty-loving young professionals” in your city? Yep, “liberty” is “political” by Facebook’s standards. I’ve had ads rejected before for this very event because I didn’t mark it as political.

If you want to hide all of the actual politics from your Facebook feed, especially in this election year, I totally get you. But beware that if you do, you might miss some cool opportunities – events on pressing current issues, such as do economic development incentives (think, the Amazon HQ2 competition) really help a community? How can we help former offenders rebuild their lives? What is socialism really, and why is it making a comeback? Or you might even miss a purely social happy hour!

If you don’t want to miss out on opportunities like these, or if you want to take action before Facebook decides to stop showing them to you all-together like Twitter did, hop on over to AFF’s email list and sign up to hear from us directly. You’ll get all of the details about events happening in your preferred area, AND you can still go turn off political ads on Facebook if you so please.

And now I’ll get back evaluating the 2020 ad strategy…