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Technology Facebook's approach to Bloomberg's meme campaign sparks transparency concerns

23:50  14 february  2020
23:50  14 february  2020 Source:   cnet.com

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Facebook ' s approach to sponsored influencer posts is already igniting criticism that it will lead to less transparency around what content Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign , said the campaign was clear in these Instagram posts that Bloomberg paid the meme -makers.

The Bloomberg campaign ' s memes showed the 78-year-old candidate, in a tongue-in-cheek awkward fashion, chatting with popular social media influencers The posts did not appear in Facebook ' s ad transparency library, which catalogs the political ads that campaigns buy directly from Facebook or

Facebook said Friday that political campaigns that pay influencers to post content won't be subject to the social network's rules around political ads, sparking concerns that politicians will exploit the loophole to skirt accountability. Sponsored influencer posts generally won't show up in a public database that displays political ads on the social network.

a close up of a sign: Facebook is allowing political campaigns to pay social media influencers to spread their message. Angela Lang/CNET© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Facebook is allowing political campaigns to pay social media influencers to spread their message. Angela Lang/CNET

The world's largest social network outlined its policy after Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg paid Instagram meme-makers to promote his campaign to millions of followers. The Instagram meme accounts mentions that these political posts were paid by Bloomberg but doesn't show up in Facebook's ad library.

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Facebook will not include sponsored political posts by social media stars in its political ad library, the It is designed to offer more transparency and show what sort of messages politicians are paying to Facebook ' s politics and free speech approach . Facebook has come under criticism for its policy

Mike Bloomberg meme ' s campaign is the most innovative digital strategy to reach Generation Z voters we've seen in this election so far. How much is Bloomberg spending? Mr Bloomberg ' s ad spending has so far out-paced Mr Trump' s , according to advertising data. In the past two weeks alone

Facebook's approach to sponsored influencer posts is already igniting criticism that it will lead to less transparency around what content politicians are paying to spread on social media. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tweeted on Friday that "refusing to catalogue paid political ads because the Bloomberg campaign found a workaround means there will be less transparency for the content he is paying to promote." Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, said the campaign was clear in these Instagram posts that Bloomberg paid the meme-makers.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has been paying popular Instagram meme-makers to promote his campaign. Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET© Provided by CNET Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has been paying popular Instagram meme-makers to promote his campaign. Screenshot by Queenie Wong/CNET

Political ads have been a hot-button issues for social networks after Russian trolls used them to sow division among Americans during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has come under fire for not sending ads from politicians to third-party fact checkers. As campaigns turn to different ways to spread their messages, social networks like Facebook are trying to clarify their rules around what's called "branded content." That's when a business or group partners pays a social media user to create and post content.

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The Michael Bloomberg campaign recently set its sights on meme culture; they've recently sought So who is he, exactly? Bloomberg ' s campaign offered a somewhat unorthodox response to that A true internet aesthete might think about approaching an account like [@ChillWildlife] instead(https

a close up of a sign: Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has been paying popular Instagram meme-makers to promote his campaign. © CNET

Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has been paying popular Instagram meme-makers to promote his campaign.

While political groups outside of Bloomberg have paid influencers to reach voters, Facebook and the services it owns such as photo-sharing site Instagram haven't been explicitly clear about how it handles branded content. Since the campaigns don't pay Facebook directly for this content, the social network doesn't consider it advertising. If a social media influencer or campaign pays Facebook to reach more users, though, then it's considered an ad and will show up in the public ads database.

"Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it's important people know when they're seeing paid content on our platforms. That's why we have an Ad Library where anyone can see who paid for an ad and why we require creators to disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.

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The Bloomberg campaign ’ s memes showed the 78-year-old candidate, in a tongue-in-cheek awkward fashion, chatting with popular social media influencers The posts did not appear in Facebook ’ s ad transparency library, which catalogs the political ads that campaigns buy directly from Facebook or

A meme campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg spread across influencers' accounts on Facebook -owned Instagram this week. Facebook said sponsored political ads like that one will not be included in its political ad database like other types of political advertising.

The company previously barred political candidates from using a tool to help advertisers run branded content. But after hearing from multiple campaigns, Facebook decided to allow US political candidates to pay and work with influencers on posts. Now a label appears under the branded content stating that it's a paid partnership.

"After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there's a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms," Facebook said in a statement.

Using social media influencers to spread political messages could also create some challenges for fact-checkers.

Facebook said that sponsored posts from influencers would still be fact checked if it's in the voice of the social media user. But if the speech is from the politician paying for the content then it wouldn't be spent to third-party fact checkers.

Facebook: Creators must disclose paid partnerships with political campaigns .
Mike Bloomberg's ploy to reach voters through bad Instagram memes may be tacky, but it is not violating any Facebook or Instagram rules, as long as creators disclose paid partnerships. "After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there's a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms," Facebook said in a statement provided to Engadget. Influencers have had to disclose paid partnerships for a while, but usually those are for products. Now, they'll have to do the same thing when they're pushing paid political content.

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