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

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) 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 cataloged in its advertising library. Branded or sponsored content is posted by users paid by a brand to promote a message on social media. Facebook does not make money from these posts and hence does not consider them as advertisement. It, however, requires content creators to disclose paid partnerships. Facebook had previously excluded political entities from using its tools to run branded content campaigns, but it has clarified that it now allows influencers to create such content for political campaigns if the posts are disclosed as branded content. The change comes after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg this week ran a sponsored content campaign with popular meme accounts on Facebook-owned Instagram. “After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there’s a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. 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. Facebook’s political ad policies have been under scrutiny in the run up to the U.S. presidential election in November, with the company’s decision to exempt politicians’ ads from fact-checking coming under fire from some regulators and lawmakers. The company said on Friday it would require political candidates running sponsored content campaigns to be “authorized”, which means they must go through an ID verification process. A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that the Bloomberg campaign was not the only political campaign that had asked about Facebook’s policies regarding sponsored content.

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