Facebook’s ban on political ads is damaging legitimate businesses

The new policy blocks any ads with names linked to presidents

Less than a year after Facebook implemented a new policy to ban unreliable ads, legitimate businesses are suffering as a result of the system’s shoddy semantics. Under the new policy, any ads that use words related to presidents are blocked. 

Legitimate, non-political ads using the word “bush” are being flagged up due to the association with the former president. Blaine Simons paid to run a promotion that offered professional mowing and bush trimming, after 10 days the system concluded that the content was political and the ad was subsequently taken down.

Under the new protocol, companies must submit an application form to be approved for advertising to allow Facebook to assess eligibilities based on a company’s general background. The process is time-consuming, and even if a company is legitimate, any overtly ‘political’ adverts are prohibited.

The new policy was implemented to help Facebook tackle advertising abuse on its website, and to prevent their platform being used as an accomplice to fraudulent activity. The platform has since faced tension from media outlets, who argue that the line between news and political advocacy is being blurred.

The social media giant has reversed its ban on cryptocurrency ads after less than six months. The ban was announced in late January, but Facebook has now declared that it is seeking to ‘“refine” its policy on cryptocurrency ads.

While Facebook may not reverse the ban on political ads, reports of an unreliable system highlights the need to refine the technology. The platform has reportedly acquired Bloomsbury AI, a London-based artificial intelligence startup that could help Facebook tackle their fake news epidemic. 

Facebook’s campaign to regain the trust of users and investors continues. It is unclear as to whether these measures will effectively improve the site’s brand identity following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however.