Facebook and Instagram Users Can Now Opt-Out of Political Ads

Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The takeaways

  • Facebook and Instagram will enable users of both to opt-out of viewing political ads.
  • The opt-out represents Facebook’s most significant development after criticisms for its handling of political content.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the rollout of this feature beginning today, alongside plans to encourage U.S. voter registration and informed participation.

What happened?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has penned an opinion piece today outlining plans to implement “the largest voting information campaign in American history” and aid 4 million people to register to vote. The USA Today article announced a new Voting Information Center to stimulate U.S. 2020 election participation among Facebook and Instagram users while promising them that they can soon opt-out entirely from viewing political ads. 

After months of growing criticism regarding Facebook’s political content moderation, Zuckerberg took a significant stance in revealing new plans for political ads, affirming that “By giving people a voice, registering and turning out voters, and preventing interference, I believe Facebook is supporting and strengthening our democracy in 2020 and beyond.” Previously in January, Facebook allowed users to opt-out of Custom Audience targeting, which limited but didn’t stop their exposure to political ads. The ad features will roll out today, becoming available first to all US users during the next few weeks and to other countries this fall.

How will this all work?

The new feature enables Facebook and Instagram users to switch off political, electoral, and social issue ads from candidates, Super PACs, and other organizations bearing the ‘Paid for by’ political disclaimer on them, although users must manually opt-out to avoid seeing future ads. It’s activated by both a drop-down option within the ad itself and Facebook and Instagram’s settings.

Zuckerberg explained that Facebook anticipates sharing “authoritative information” on the electoral process with over 160 million people in the United States from July through November. Facebook will also supply registration and Election Day reminders, as well as information about voting by mail, as it did during the primaries.

Facebook will display the Voting Information Center on its news page, as well as Instagram to ensure that users can easily access it. For more information, please see this story.

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