Posted 06.12.2018 by Alex Rose

Why you should get authorized to run political ads on Facebook (even if you’re not in politics)

If you think this new Facebook change doesn’t affect you, think again.

Welcome to social media marketing in 2018.

As you may have heard, Facebook set up an authorization process that is required before a Page can run “political ads” on its advertising platform. While you may not typically build political ads, getting authorized now could bail you (or a client) out of a tricky situation later.

Yes, even if you don’t think the pages that you manage are “politically adjacent.”

Don’t fret, we’ve compiled a few notes on how to navigate this two-step process.

[Click here to skip ahead to the authorization checklist.]

To start, let’s get a bit of background.

What counts as a political ad on Facebook?

The definition is more flexible than you might think. Ads that include political content are defined as any ad that:

  1. Is made by, on behalf of, or about a current or former candidate for public office, a political party, a political action committee, or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office
  2. Relates to any election, referendum, or ballot initiative, including “get out the vote” or election information campaigns
  3. Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run
  4. Is regulated as political advertising.

Why should I get authorized to run political ads?

Whether you meant to run “political ads” or not, Facebook might think you are. “National legislative issues of public importance” is pretty vague, and that is intentional. We expect to see Facebook update this list over time to cover topics that Facebook wants to better regulate. (Yes, it is a literal list.) And, at the time of our original publication, it includes “legislative issues” like:

  • abortion
  • budget
  • civil rights
  • crime
  • economy
  • education
  • energy
  • environment
  • foreign policy
  • government reform
  • guns
  • health
  • immigration
  • infrastructure
  • military
  • poverty
  • social security
  • taxes
  • terrorism
  • values

That’s…a lot.

The broad definition of some of these issues could result in your content getting flagged regardless of how political you believe it be. That’s the crux of our pro-authorization recommendation; even ads that you may not consider to be “political” can be flagged. If they are flagged, you won’t be able to distribute them without appeal or authorization.

See this flagged post from Comcast, as an example.

What is Facebook changing with political ads?

At a macro-level:

  1. Ads that are labeled as political will include a “paid for by…” disclaimer
  2. Facebook will maintain an archive of ads published after May 7, 2018 which have been deemed to “contain political content.” These ads will be stored for up to 7 years.

Want to see what political ads look like? Satisfy your curiosity here: Archive of Ads With Political Content

 

There are some micro-level changes, too:

  1. People and pages that are running ads which have been deemed to contain political content will be required to go through an authorization process before this content can be distributed through paid means on the Facebook Advertising Platform (which brings us to this post). The nit-picky details on this process can be found here: Facebook Business Help: Getting authorized to run ads that include political content, but we’ll provide a summary below so that you can get your bearings before initiating the process.
  2. Once the authorization is complete, you will still need to link any relevant ad accounts to your now-authorized identity.

How to get authorized to run political ads on Facebook

To start the process visit the identity authorization page.

Once there you will be prompted to run through a number of steps for verifying your identity.

Step 1) Confirm your identity in Facebook’s system.

To do this, Facebook needs to generate a code to send you through the mail. Here are the steps you have to take in the setup process.

  1. Set up two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a security feature that helps protect your account from hacks (and it’s generally a good idea to setup anyway).
  2. Provide a copy of your US-based, government-issued ID. This should be a driver’s license or passport, and it must be clear.
  3. Provide the last four digits of your SSN.
  4. Provide your mailing address. Use one you actually use because this is where Facebook will send the verification code.
  5.  Once you request a verification card, the waiting period begins. In 1-2 weeks, you will receive a letter in the mail with your information and a code to enter.
  6. Enter the unique card code provided to confirm your address verification (you can do so by returning to www.facebook.com/id/us_political_ads_advertiser/)

If you have ever verified a location for a listing site, this process should be similar.

Common Issues with Authorization

Make sure the ID is completely clear.

political-ads-id-ssn-issues

In our team’s identification, early versions of our ID uploads threw an error code. Be sure to take a close up picture that’s completely flat, shows all four corners, uses a clear and focused image, and sits on a dark background. Then spin around in your chair five times and hope it works. Because Facebook.

political-ads-photo-requirements-issues

 

Step 2) Linking your ad accounts

Congratulations! Once you have verified your identity, and subsequently been authorized to run political ads, you will need to link your ad accounts in Business Manager to set up the “paid for by…” disclaimers mentioned above.

There are four steps to link your Facebook ad accounts.

  1. Accept the Terms & Conditions. By running ads with political content, you explicitly agree to comply with Facebook’s Terms and Conditions. Pressing “Accept” confirms this.
  2. Link your Ad Accounts. In the next step, Facebook will share all of the ad accounts you can link. Check the box on the ad account(s) that need disclaimers.
  3. Edit the Disclaimers. For the ad account selected, add a relevant label to appear with your ad. The name you enter must be “accurate and complete”, and can not include a URL. Your disclaimer can be edited at any time, though editing will initiate another manual review.
  4. Review & Submit changes. After clicking “submit”, you will not be able to place new ads from the ad account until the disclaimed has been approved. This process should take under 24 hours, but be mindful of the wait period.

Once approved, a new check box (or switch on mobile) will appear in the ad creation process. If your ad includes political content, check the box.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who can facilitate these changes on a Page?

As a quick note, only a page admin can complete this workflow from start to finish. For more information regarding how user permissions interact these new policies please consult this article: Facebook Business Help: How your ads that include political content will appear

How long does the verification take?

Facebook claims that you should expect to receive your verification card 7–10 days after requesting it. Your mileage may vary. We found that to be true 2 out of 3 times. For the record, the verification letter was sent from Jersey City, New Jersey and we live in Iowa City, Iowa.  If you do not receive the verification code in 10 days, contact Facebook. The two-factor authentication, ID verification, and SSN verification were near-instantaneous to setup.

 

I don’t run political ads on Facebook. Will I still need to verify my identity?

For now this process has not rolled out to all Pages, though anything is possible. Here is Facebook’s official note on Pages that would be affected:

“Today, we’re also announcing that people who manage Pages with large numbers of followers will need to be verified. Those who manage large Pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies. We will also show you additional context about Pages to effectively assess their content. For example, you can see whether a Page has changed its name.”

Do these rules apply to other platforms?

Twitter is rolling out their own policy and authorization process for political advertising. According to their FAQ, they will be creating a similar policy for issue advertising, too. Expect more updates through 2019.

What if my question wasn’t in here?

If you still have questions, check Facebook’s support articles first. Their Help Center is comprehensive. Jon DiPietro answers some specific questions in the comments of his article, too. If you don’t find the answer you need, here’s a direct link to Messenger chat with a Facebook rep.

Leave us a comment below if you ran into a problem others might have too.

Did this get you to the finish line? Contact us and let us know.

Alex Rose

Alex brings a passion for measurement to the Sculpt team. He loves to demonstrate the impact of communications campaigns to clients.

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