Understanding Social Media Political Advertising Policies
By Laura DiCaprio and Katelyn Lugo
Political season is here! Which means “I’m __ and I approve this message!” ads will be appearing all over your internet-connected devices and TVs soon, especially on social media. Social media usage is at an all-time high across all age groups right now due to the pandemic, and these platforms are included in every political candidate’s advertising budget. Policies vary from social platform to platform and as advertisers, it’s imperative to know the rules.
To better understand site policies and where political ads will appear this Fall, we categorized the top nine platforms into three categories:
- Red Zone: No political ads are allowed
- Yellow Zone: Some political ads are allowed, but with tight restrictions
- Green Zone: Political ads are allowed, with modest restrictions
Each of the top-nine social media platforms are below under their defined category, with a summary of their political policy.
LinkedIn: “Political ads are prohibited, including ads advocating for or against a particular candidate, party, or ballot proposition or otherwise intended to influence an election outcome; ads fundraising for or by political candidates, parties, political action committees or similar organizations, or ballot propositions; and ads exploiting a sensitive political issue even if the advertiser has no explicit political agenda.”
Twitter: “Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content. We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
Pinterest: “We don’t allow campaigns for the election or defeat of political candidates running for public office, political parties or action committees, political issues with the intent to influence an election, and legislation, including referendums or ballot initiatives.”
TikTok: “Ads must not reference, promote, or oppose a candidate for public office, current or former political leader, political party, political organization, or contain content regarding a local, state, or federal issue of public importance. Calls to action from non-profit organizations or government agencies may be allowed, if not driven by partisan political motives.”
Reddit: “Reddit’s advertising policy already forbids deceptive, untrue, or misleading advertising (political advertisers included). Further, each political ad is manually reviewed for messaging and creative content, we do not accept political ads from advertisers and candidates based outside the United States, and we only allow political ads at the federal level. That said, beginning today, we will also require political advertisers to work directly with our sales team and leave comments “on” for (at least) the first 24 hours of any given campaign. We will strongly encourage political advertisers to use this opportunity to engage directly with users in the comments.”
Facebook: “Advertisers can run ads about social issues, elections, or politics, provided the advertiser complies with all applicable laws and the authorization process required by Facebook. Where appropriate, Facebook may restrict issue, electoral, or political ads.”
Instagram: Ads must “have a disclaimer showing information about the organization or individual responsible for the ad”.
Snapchat: “Political advertising must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including all national election laws, copyright law, defamation law, and (where applicable) Federal Election Commission regulations and state or local laws and regulations. Complying with those laws and regulations will be the sole responsibility of the advertiser.”
YouTube: “We support responsible political advertising, and expect all political ads and destinations to comply with local legal requirements, including campaign and election laws and mandated election “silence periods,” for any geographic areas they target. Political content includes ads for political organizations, political parties, political issue advocacy or fundraising, and individual candidates and politicians.”
If your brand is advertising on social media this Fall it’s important to know what that medium’s political policy is, in order to understand what ads your ad might appear alongside. Knowing this will help you make an informed decision about whether or not you’d like your brand to be aligned with that content.