Facebook recently announced a major change in their advertising policy. This was a response made to not only the “meddling” in the 2016 election with advertising, but also in response to the data scraping techniques of Cambridge Analytica that caused public outrage earlier this year. (Personal note: What I find interesting about these changes is that it is the free market self regulating. While bluster has come from Congress over the issues, there hasn’t been any direct legislation trying to regulate the “ills” of what occurred at Facebook.) Essentially, Facebook allowed marketers to have a user “opt in” through an app they downloaded and from that one person, they could access their entire friend list. It was a well known practice in the industry, and even the Obama election team used this same method to gather data. Ironically, Facebook was caught off guard by the extent that the Obama team employed this with the app they built for the campaign. The biggest difference I can see between team Obama and Cambridge Analytica was that when you downloaded the Obama app, the user was aware of just who was going to be using the information to an extent. Cambridge Analytica created a Facebook quiz app and extracted the data for their purposes. The Trump campaign happened to buy into the data for a time but did not end up using it in the General Election. Was this illegal? No. Was it shady? Maybe. The hysteria surrounding the event was merely another partisan bat that could be beat over the head of President Trump. People are generally unaware of just how much information they are putting into Facebook, and when they are shown “how the sausage is made”, they are outraged. One of the major takeaways is this: you’re using a private company’s platform whose sole purpose is to monetize any information it’s given. It’s up to you what you share and how you’ll be used.
So what does any of this have to do with you? The big changes being made are to Facebook’s advertising policy and how politically active groups advertise “national legislative issue of public importance”. Facebook ads are a great way to target voters in your area and increase engagement with your brand. They are simple to set up and cost effective, but Facebook has made this process a little more complicated. Most notable in the changes are the authorization process and what the actual ads will start to look like. A real person that is verified through Facebook must be the one to place the ads. so whether you’re an agency working with clients or a volunteer with your county party, there must be a real person placing these ads. The ads will also feature a “Paid for by” tagline in the ad and the information icon that Facebook has started rolling out in other parts of the platform. When you’re placing ads, you’ll also be given a check box indicating that this is a political ad so that it can go through the proper review process.
The most chilling aspect of this whole process is the very thin line that Facebook is going to start walking with monitoring of speech. That fine line is between platform and publisher. As a platform, they are merely a vehicle for the transmission of information and not liable for what people say or do on there, like telephone companies are not responsible for the actions people take using their service. However, if Facebook is going to be more stringently policing what they are going to allow to be seen, they are now acting as a publisher which will open them up to a world of lawsuits for actions taken. I’m not going to delve into the algorithmic changes that have negatively impacted many, but there is certainly justified cause for concern. Facebook is aiming to bring more transparency to the process, which should be applauded, but the end users and the company must be carefully watching that they don’t cross that line.
There are a number of questions about the new policies that Facebook answers in their forums about the political advertising policy changes, so be sure to visit that page before starting.
Starting the Authorization Process
Because Facebook is wanting to assign real users to the ads placed, they want those users to have a real US-based address. The sensitive information that is required to complete the process will only be used for Facebook purposes and will be transmitted through secure servers.
What You Need:
Your profile name matches your ID
A valid US Drivers License or Passport (I took a picture of mine with my phone)
The last 4 of your SSN
A US-based residential mailing address
*You’ll be required to submit information, including your residential address, a Driver’s License or Passport and the last 4 digits of your Social Security number. The only reason we collect this information is to confirm your identity. We use trusted service providers to do this. Your information won’t be shared on your profile, in your ads or with other Admins on your Page or ad accounts. After we confirm your identity, we’ll delete this information from our systems. This normally happens within 6 weeks. If you’d like more information about how we handle personal data, please see the Facebook Data Policy.
Once you’ve secured all of the materials listed, you can start the authorization process.
Navigate to your Facebook page
Click Settings in the white bar at the top of the page
Navigate to Authorizations in the left hand nav
Click Get Started
Securing and Confirming Your Facebook Account
Once you’ve completed the identification steps, you’ll need to secure your account and wait for the letter from Facebook to come.
Securing your account is easy and only requires an app on your phone. I recommend using Google Authenticator. It’s simple to use, and can be used for other platforms that require a two-factor authorization. You can download it on Android or iOS.
Be on the look out for your letter from Facebook in the mail. Mine was in a nondescript envelope and took a little more than a week to arrive. Inside is a six digit code that you’ll need to return to Facebook to enter. Once you’ve done that, you can continue on to the next steps.
Connecting to your Ad Account
Once you’ve gone through the verification steps, all you need to do now is to connect to your ad account. You can use this verification across multiple ad accounts that are going to feature political content. You will need to have the appropriate permission levels on the page to manage ads.