Next year is the United States General Election and from the snafu that was caused by social media regarding the election, political ads have become a contentious issue.
Facebook updated their ad policy where they declined to ‘referee political debates’ and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate.’ They also exempted politicians from their 3rd party fact checking program but if the politician shares debunked content like links, videos and photos, they will demote it.
Facebook received a lot of backlash about this policy and it seems they are not backing down from the bad press. During their Q3 2019 earnings call, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed this situation where he said he doesn’t agree with the critics who claim the company won’t ban these ads.
According to Zuckerberg, he said that these ads from politicians will be less than 0.5% of Facebook’s revenue this year. Facebook made $55 billion last year and as per Q3 2019, they have already made $48 billion and with Q4 looming, they can easily make a total of over $60 billion in revenue this year. That 0.5% on the $60 billion I estimate them to make in total in 2019 would mean that their revenue from these political ads is north of $300 million!
Zuckerberg’s stance for free speech and free expression has been met with backlash. “We need to be careful about adopting more rules that can restrict what people can say. I don’t think it is right for politicians to be censored,” he said.
These comments come after social media companies like Twitter decided to put a stop to all paid political ads on their services. “We believe political message reach should be earned and not bought,” Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO said.