Facebook is now allowing presidential campaigns to use sponsored content after former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s team paid several social media influencers to hype the candidate.
Facebook will allow so-called branded content from political candidates. The company and subsidiary Instagram previously banned such content from politicians, according to a Facebook representative, Politico reported.
“After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there’s a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms,” the representative said. “We’re allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools.”
The rule change was under consideration as meme posts from social media influencers was becoming a major tool across Instagram, the representative said. Facebook’s decision came after Bloomberg’s team linked with Meme 2020, a company behind a slate of successful social media influencers.
The meme promotional campaign elevating Bloomberg launched this week and has already placed posts on one account with a meme page with more than 2.7 million followers; Jerry Media’s own most popular account, “FuckJerry,” also pushed posts for the New York billionaire.
The accounts posted campaign ads in the form of fake direct messages from Bloomberg.
Bloomberg’s team reportedly wants the accounts to describe “why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected,” according to The Daily Beast. Bloomberg told reporters in November 2019 that he plans on spending $500 million or more to defeat President Donald Trump.
Competing with Trump in this space will be a big lift for Bloomberg’s team. The president’s ability to use social media as a political weapon is legendary.
Trump posted in July 2019 telling Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and others “to go back” to their own countries. His missives all but blanketed news media at the time, elevating lawmakers he describes as socialists while depriving Democratic presidential opponents of crucial coverage.
News articles about Trump generated more than 23.2 million interactions that month, according to NewsWhip, a social-media metrics company. The massive amount of media is a reminder that the president has the ability to drive media narratives, an argument that reporters often lamented after Trump’s victory in 2016.
Trump’s team has also managed to turn what would otherwise be considered negative publicity into a tool to pad the president’s war chest. The president raised cash off an incident in which he allegedly used a marker on a weather map in 2019 mapping Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory.
Trump used the incident as a type of marketing ploy and is selling fine point markers to raise money for the president’s reelection bid. The campaign reportedly sold about $50,000 worth of fine point markers as of Sept. 13, effectively piggy-backing off of Trump’s actions.
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