Meta bosses look at political ads ban in Europe

The Facebook parent company is concerned about how it will police the content on its social networks in the wake of new EU regulations.

Meta bosses look at political ads ban in Europe

Meta executives have discussed a ban on all political advertising across the company in Europe. This is due to concerns that their social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, will not be able to comply with

Coming EU Regulations

Online marketing is a great way to target your audience.

Brussels regulators

New laws are being drafted

Next year, the Info Force will be enacted to make large internet groups reveal more information about political groups and users behind online campaigns.

Meta, headed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worried that the definition of paid-for campaigns under the new plan will be too broad, making it easier to reject all political campaigns paid for on the company's websites, according to people who were briefed about internal discussions.

People said that the idea was being seriously considered, as users were not interested in political content and revenue generated by political ads is small when compared to its overall business.

According to Insider Intelligence research, between 2019 and 2020 the company generated less than $800mn of revenue from political ads in the US. This is less than 1% of its total advertising revenues over this period.

People familiar with the situation cautioned people that discussions between senior Meta executives continue and some are opposed to a ban on politics ads. The people close to the matter said that a final decision would be taken once the EU settled on a definition for what constitutes political ads in its new regulations. Meta did not reply to requests for comments.

Meta's question is: How far will it go to adapt? And at what cost?

After the US election of 2016, social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter have been criticised for not clamping down on conspiracy theories and misinformation to prevent election manipulation.

Zuckerberg has insisted that private companies are not the 'arbiters of truth'. Meta temporarily stopped political advertising during and before important votes such as the

US 2020 Presidential Election

According to the EU proposals groups like Facebook and Google are forced to be transparent about the political advertising they run, including how much it costs, who pays for them, and how many people view the content.

By June 5, the European Commission, European Parliament and EU member state are expected to reach an agreement on a final definition of political advertising in accordance with the new regulation.

The EU institutions seem to agree with the description of political advertising by the European Commission as the promotion of an message by a "political actor" or "which is likely to influence the result of an election".

The Brussels regulators are divided on the extent to which the regulation could limit the ability of Big Tech companies to access user data for the purpose of targeting political advertising.

One EU official who was aware of Meta's discussions within the company downplayed the impact the new law would have on the firm. The company's role in policing the political advertisements is minimal, and they do a great deal of work to ensure transparency.

Officials claimed that Meta’s move was designed to increase pressure on the EU, to further narrow the definition of political advertisement to make it easier to enforce new rules.

A person familiar with the company's discussion said, 'The Meta question is how far they want to adapt at what cost.'

Hannah Murphy, San Francisco: Additional Reporting