Political Ads on Facebook—The Game is Changing

If you run political ads on Facebook, new regulations are about to complicate matters.

In an attempt to protect Facebook users from false ads—like the ones we now know were shown during the 2016 Presidential Election (thanks to Russia and Cambridge Analytica)—the social platform now requires proof of identity for anyone wanting to run political ads targeting the United States.


As an advertiser, this is what you can expect: on the Facebook page from which you plan to advertise, you’ll see a new “Authorizations” tab under “Settings.” From there, it’s a two-step process that should be simple for any honest U.S. advertiser. Facebook wants to know that a real person who has U.S. residency is running the page and what the funding source is.

Not who you say you are? Bad news for you. This entire process is meant to weed out the “fake news.” In addition to the steps below, the platform will rely on software to help find advertisers that should have gone through the authorization process but for whatever reason, did not.

Step 1: Confirm Your Identity
This requires you to provide Facebook with a government-issued ID—either a photo of a driver's license or passport—along with the last four digits of a Social Security number and a residential mailing address. Facebook will then mail a letter to the address with a unique access code. Once you get the code, enter it in the URL provided via snail mail. Your ID confirmation is now complete and will be applied to all pages and ad accounts where you are an administrator.

Step 2: Link Your Ad Accounts
Back on the “Authorizations” page, you’ll see the terms and conditions for running political ads. You’ll have to agree to these to move forward. From there, on the “Ad Accounts” screen, click “Enable” next to every account you use to fund political ads.

Expect to see “political ad” labels to your ads going forward. You will also be asked to include a disclaimer on your ads saying, “Paid for by...” that will link to details about your organization. Users will be able to see these details and get an explanation of why they were shown that particular ad.

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This verification process will apply only to U.S. federal election-related advertising at first, but Facebook plans to expand this requirement to state and local elections in the future.

Oh, and Facebook isn’t alone. If you run ads on Google, they have their own requirements for political advertisers.

Similar to Facebook, Google will ask for a government-issued ID and other information to confirm the advertisers are U.S citizens or lawful permanent residents. The new rules also include a requirement to clearly disclose who is paying for the ad.

Not sure if you meet Facebook’s requirements for “political ads”? Check out their terms and get more information on the authorization process.

Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

- Nikki