Facebook fixes technical error affecting political ads days before US election

The founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 15, 2020.

Christof Stache | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook on Thursday issued an update to political advertisers acknowledging that a technical error in its systems caused a number of ads from both political parties to be improperly paused.

“While this impacted a small proportion of the ads about politics and social issues in our system, we regret any disruption in the delivery of these ads during this period,” the company said in a blog post.

The error stems from a policy change Facebook announced in early September to block any new political ads in the week prior to the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.

A technical flaw improperly paused “a number of ads” in relation to this policy decision, Facebook said. Additionally, some “advertisers did not understand the instructions” Facebook provided, which also caused their ads to be paused, the company said.

The issues impacted “ads from across the political spectrum and both Presidential campaigns,” the company said, adding that no ad was paused due to any partisan consideration. The company said it has made updates to enable the affected ads to run.

Earlier today, the Biden campaign’s digital director Rob Flaherty complained on Twitter that just five days before the election, Facebook still hadn’t fixed the problems related to the campaign’s ads.

The disruption comes less than a week before the election. Numerous candidates rely on Facebook to target voters and donors with ads.  

Political advertisers in the U.S. spent at least $264 million on Facebook in the third quarter, or about 1.2% of the company’s revenue during the quarter, according to CNBC analysis.

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