I Approved This Facebook Message — But You Don’t Know That

Hundreds of federal political ads — including those from major players such as the Democratic National Committee and the Donald Trump 2020 campaign — are running on Facebook without adequate disclaimer language, likely violating Federal Election Commission rules. An FEC opinion in December clarified that the requirement for political ads to say who paid for and approved them, which has long applied to print and broadcast outlets, extends to ads on Facebook. So we checked more than 300 ads that had run on the world’s largest social network since the opinion, and that election-law experts told us met the criteria for a disclaimer. Fewer than 40 had disclosures that appeared to satisfy FEC rules.

Insufficient disclaimers can be minor technicalities, not necessarily evidence of intent to deceive. But the pervasiveness of the lapses ProPublica found suggests a larger problem that may raise concerns about the upcoming midterm elections — that political advertising on the world’s largest social network isn’t playing by rules intended to protect the public.


I Approved This Facebook Message — But You Don’t Know That