As the U.S. election season trudges forward, Facebook announced it will allow politicians and political groups to pay for sponsored content on the platform, Reuters reported Friday.
This means that politicians can pay users, groups, or pages to post content in partnership with the politicians, which is a separate beast from standard advertising. The decision form Facebook comes after Mike Bloomberg, who is vying to be the Democratic candidate in 2020’s presidential election, began a campaign of branded content on Instagram, paying popular accounts to promote his campaign.
Content creators on Facebook will now be able to tag if a post is sponsored by a politician more easily. In order to pay for sponsored content, politicians and political groups will have to be authorized to do so by Facebook.
If a politician does pay for some political “sponcon,” the Federal Trade Commission requires that whoever posts it has to clearly mark the post as such so as not to be deceptive.
Unlike with advertisements, Facebook does not make any money from sponsored content on its platform. All of that goes to the person or organization that actually posts the content.
Because political branded content isn’t classified under the same distinctions as straight-up advertising, this also means that these posts won’t be tracked unless the person who posts it decides to boost the post with paid promotion.
Thus far, billionaire candidate Bloomberg has vastly outspent his fellow Democrats in terms of advertising and sponsored content thus far, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see his campaign messages start to flood Facebook after this announcement.