Nonprofit Guide to Facebook Political Ads

AdvocacyDigital Advertising

The 2020 election cycle brought a new wave of political advertising to the digital sphere, as well as new restrictions. In fact, Facebook instated a strict ban on political advertising after the polls closed in November 2020, in an effort to limit the spread of misinformation — this Facebook political ads ban remained in effect until March 2021, with only a few exceptions for advertising during the Georgia Senate runoff elections in January 2021.

As the year has gone on, we’ve continued to see the nation’s attention turn to critical elections at both the local and state levels, and as the country gears up for the 2022 midterm elections, we know that digital advertising will have a significant role to play. But if you’re an organization that works in digital advocacy and intends to run Facebook political ads, there are preparatory steps you should take so your ads and ad accounts are prepared to hit the ground running.

What Are Facebook Political Ads?

On Facebook, ads about social issues, elections or politics are defined as ads “made by, on behalf of, or about a candidate for public office, a political figure, a political party or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office; or about any election, referendum, or ballot initiative, including “go out and vote” or election campaigns; or about social issues in any place where the ad is being placed; or regulated as political advertising.” (Facebook)

Ads deemed political on Facebook must have a legal disclaimer with the name and entity that paid for the ads. If an ad runs without a disclaimer, it will be disapproved and not allowed to run. Requirements vary by country.

How to Run Political Ads on Facebook

In order to run political ads on Facebook, you need to authorize your advertisers for political advertising and create a legal disclaimer for your ads. To create a legal disclaimer on Facebook, you first must go through the process of getting your organization’s Facebook page authorized. To go through the process in the United States, you’ll need a valid form of government-issued identification, a valid United States mailing address, have two-factor identification enabled, and be the page admin or advertiser on the page. Once your identity is verified, you will be able to create and manage your legal disclaimer. Visit Facebook’s Business Help Center to get more information on how to create and manage disclaimers. This rule on Facebook is based on the Federal Election Commission’s advertising guidelines, which include regulations on disclaimers for authorized committees, PACs, party committees, and other groups or individuals. 

Not only should you be making sure your legal disclaimers are set, but you should also confirm that images, graphics, and videos are compliant with their own respective disclosures. The Federal Trade Commission offers a full list on what constitutes a clear and conspicuous disclosure and checklist, so to speak, on how to be sure. 

Example of an image with a clear and conspicuous disclosure: 

An example of a legal disclaimer on a mock ad image.

Once you’re set up to run political ads on Facebook, you can still leverage digital advertising best practices and social media strategies to achieve your campaign goals. If you’re interested in reading more about digital advocacy specifically, check out our resource on driving activist impact with political CTAs, or head over to Whole Whale University to explore our full suite of digital fundraising courses and guides