Social Media and Political Ads


Sarah Larson, Arts and Community Writer

Back in September, Facebook had announced they were going to implement policies that would prevent misinformation about the upcoming election one of which being a ban on new political ads the week before the election. Now that we have only have a few more days before election day, this policy did not have a good start. One major problem was that political ads that had been submitted prior to the deadline meaning they met the guidelines, were banned for both Republicans and Democrats. While this doesn’t really affect the major candidates Trump and Biden, this does affect the smaller campaigns that don’t have as much money because Facebook is a cheaper optionFacebook also ended up receiving backlash over two Trump ads that had been pre-approved by Facebook and were being used to exploit the ban. The first ad pictured Trump with text saying, today is election day telling you to vote while the other one was a video of Trump’s face on a sun with a voiceover saying, It’s morning in America. Donald J. Trump is still president of the United States. The way the ban was exploited in this situation was the campaign team had submitted the ads before the deadline then put them on pause until after the deadline. Facebook responded by saying they will be removing the vote today ads but keeping the Donald Trump is still your president ads because regardless of the election’s outcome, Trump will technically still be president until January 20.  

Instagram, owned by Facebook, did something different however to stop the spread of misinformation. What they did was temporarily remove the recent tab from hashtags. So rather than clicking on a hashtag and seeing a top and recent tab, instead you are met with a message above the photos saying that recent posts have been temporarily hidden from hashtags to help prevent the spread of possible false information and harmful content. In terms of political ads on their platform, I personally have not seen any but that also may be because I don’t go on Instagram as often as I used to. The only other social media platform I have seen popping up in the news regarding political ads is YouTube. They seem to have the problem of having too many political ads which has gotten some people angry including a 6-year-old boy in Georgia who was tired of seeing political ads on the Minecraft videos he watchedIn the story in which the boy was mentioned, they bring up the topic of micro-targeting. Micro-targeting is a recent trend used in political campaigns where they will release their ads on as many platforms in order to reach a specific audience and in this case, they tend to go after games in hopes of reaching a younger audience. While I do agree that there does seem to be a lot of political ads on the platform, especially ones in favor of Trump, can’t say I’m that annoyed by them. The only problem I’ve ever had with ads on YouTube is when they started playing two ads instead of one. While both ads are skippable, sometimes you will get two unskippable ads in a row.  


Sarah Larson is a Dakota Student Art and Community Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]