Facebook will lift its ban on political ads on Thursday, ending a self-imposed prohibition that began immediately after the November 2020 general election and remained active for months.
Facebook informed top political advertisers of its decision by phone and email on Wednesday, according to sources with knowledge of the announcement.
The social media giant banned political and social issue-related ads in early November in an effort to curb misinformation around the general election. But the pause on political ads extended deep into the first months of the Biden administration, only partially lifted ahead of the Georgia Senate runoffs in early January.
Facebook will now return political ads to its platform, one of the largest and most cost-effective ways for campaigns to reach voters and potential supporters. Digital strategists in both parties were sharply critical of Facebook’s decision to cut off access to voters for the last several months, upending off-year campaign strategies.
In an email sent to clients on Wednesday, Facebook representatives said, “while we are lifting the ad pause, our work is not over.”
“For the past several years, we invested heavily to fight misinformation, voter suppression and election interference, and remain committed to removing and reducing this type of content while connecting people with reliable information across our apps,” the email continued, signed by two Facebook partners. “As a result, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these ads work on our service to see where further changes may be merited.”
Facebook and Google — responsible for billions of dollars in digital political ad spending during the 2020 cycle — both instituted bans around the 2020 election. Their prohibitions scrambled online fundraising efforts in 2021, cutting off a key communication tool between campaigns and voters ahead of state elections in Virginia and New Jersey this year, as well as municipal races around the country.
Last week, Google announced that it would be lifting its own ban, after temporarily reimposing it following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.