Facebook admits it would run doctored Tory campaign video as an ad

Facebook has admitted a Conservative party campaign video, which features doctored and misleading footage of a Labour opponent, would be permissible under its current rules on political ads.

In comments sure to intensify the pressure on the social network to ban political adverts completely, the company said it would be comfortable running the ad, which featured a heavily-edited interview with Labour’s Brexit spokesperson Keir Starmer.

The video, which has been doctored to make it appear as if Labour had no answer for Brexit, was posted to the Conservative party Twitter and Facebook accounts, but not as an advertisement.

Despite the uproar caused, Facebook said that if the Tories wanted to pay it to run the clip as an ad, that wouldn’t be a problem. That’s because fact-checking policies don’t apply to political ads submitted to Facebook.

Rebecca Stimson, Head of UK Public Policy for Facebook, said “the short answer is, yes it would” be allowed (via Reuters). Stimson went as far as to say the video was good for debate.

“Ads from political parties and political candidates are not subject to our fact-checking rules,” she told reporters. “What that has meant is what the Conservative party put in that advert has been the subject of ferocious public debate and discussion, precisely because people could see that it was there.”

Facebook’s continued refusal to outlaw political ads comes after Twitter threw down the gauntlet by pledging to stop accepting advertisements from candidates or from those representing political issues.

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The practice will end on November 22, just in time for the final weeks of campaigning in the UK general election. In a lengthy thread posted last week, Dorsey says the company believes “political reach should be earned, not bought.”

Dorsey wrote: “A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

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