Donald Trump has never met a Facebook rule he couldn’t bend, break, or ignore to his advantage. The social media giant’s ostensible attempt to prevent new political ads from running the week prior to the U.S. presidential election appears to be no exception.
Facebook announced in early September that, with an eye toward possible “civil unrest,” the company wouldn’t accept new political ads in the immediate run up to the election. The Trump campaign looks to have found an easy way around this half measure, with new ads already placed on Facebook that are clearly targeted at an election week reality.
One such ad, which as of the time of this writing has under 1,000 impression on Facebook and was run only in Maine, tells voters that “President Trump is STILL your President.” Another group of ads from the Trump campaign, spotted by CNBC, instruct viewers to “Vote TODAY!” and include a graphic reading “ELECTION DAY IS TODAY.”
The “STILL your President” ad was published to Facebook before the company’s new political ads ban went into effect, essentially grandfathering in an ad that can now be spun up on Election Day and the days following — a time during which the results of the election may be in dispute.
Notably, according to the Facebook Ad Library, the “Vote TODAY!” ads began running on Oct. 26 but, as of Oct. 27, were inactive. It’s almost like someone was trying to get them in just under the wire.
Of course, regardless of the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump will still be president until at least January of 2021. In other words, the “STILL your President” ad is technically correct — a technicality the Trump campaign is surely relying on to keep it in Facebook’s good graces.
We reached out to Facebook in an effort to determine if the Trump campaign ad which states “ELECTION DAY IS TODAY” constitutes an end run around Facebook’s new political ads ban, and if the ad suggesting Trump won will trigger its nebulous policy regarding claims of premature victory.
We received no immediate response.
Notably, whatever Facebook ends up doing with these latest ads, it’s worth remembering that political ads are only a small part of the story. Facebook’s algorithm still promotes Donald Trump’s unpaid posts — often full of mistruths and outright lies — to the company’s scores of users. That’s a privilege that Trump doesn’t have to pay for, and one that no ban on new political ads during election week will touch.