The social media giant has quietly withdrawn the policy which banned adverts containing ‘deceptive, false or misleading content’
The social media giant changed the policy within the last week to only ban “claims debunked by third-party fact-checkers, or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organisations with particular expertise”.
As well as the newly relaxed ban, Facebook has decided that opinion and satirical content hosted on the site are exempt from verification.
This includes posts by political parties or politicians who are currently in office or are running for election.
Explaining Facebook’s decision to backtrack on policy, a spokesperson said that the company did not feel that it was “an appropriate role for us to referee political debates”.
“Nor do we think it would be appropriate to prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” they added.
The new, considerably less strict policy will place increasing pressure on independent fact checking charities such as Full Fact.
Full Fact is just one of a number of small, impartial organisations who work to verify claims made by political candidates as part of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme.
Fact-checkers can review and rate public, newsworthy Facebook posts, including ads, with articles, photos or videos. For each piece of content, the fact-checker is able to provide a rating between 1 – 9, where each number correlates to a different standard of truth.
However, because these teams are so small, it is difficult to verify all claims made, meaning misinformation is still being seeped into the public domain.
The responsibility to verify political advertising falls on these independent charities because large watchdogs, such as the Advertising Standards Authority, do not regulate political ads.
However, the ASA does cover all advertising other than politics, meaning it is able to keep check of advertising on Facebook – especially if it is “materially misleading”.
On Thursday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Facebook and other social media sites can be ordered to remove illegal content from their platforms – a ruling which could also provide a tool to help regulate false advertising.