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Facebook RNC political ads
A handful of examples of ads run by the Republican National Committee on Facebook in the week before the election.

  • In the run up to the 2020 election, Facebook instituted new advertising policies barring any new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day, but that didn’t stop previously approved ads from being boosted and/or altered. 
  • Despite the new rules, the Republican National Committee was able to pour millions into existing campaigns in key battleground states in the last seven days of the race — time that fell under Facebook’s ad ban. 
  • The RNC poured millions into get out the vote and voter registration advertising in the week leading up to the election, Facebook advertising data reported by the MIT Technology Review shows.
  • Moreover, the ads were adjusted up to and including Election Day to target key battleground states like Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.  
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the run up to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook instituted new advertising policies aimed at political campaigns.

One new rule was specifically intended to protect Facebook from moderation issues: No new political ads would be accepted in the seven days leading up to the November 3 election.

Instead of being potentially swamped at the last minute by political ads that required scrutiny before publishing, Facebook gave itself a buffer — but that didn’t stop existing political ad campaigns from boosting their signal and recalibrating their targeting all the way up to Election Day.

Read more: A Biden-Harris administration could mean a crackdown on the advertising and tech industries

The Republican National Committee, for instance, was able to pour millions of additional dollars into its existing get-out-the-vote and voter registration campaigns. Facebook’s ad library data, first spotted by the MIT Technology Review, demonstrates how the RNC not only boosted its campaigns right up to Election Day itself, but also re-targeted its advertising to key battleground states like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election reached historic highs for both major presidential candidates, with Democratic voters using mail-in and early voting methods in higher numbers than Republican voters, who turned out in higher numbers on November 3.

Facebook has banned political ads indefinitely following the election. 

The company has faced scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans over its handling of political ads, with members of both parties accusing Facebook of censorship. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent years defending the company’s policies on political advertising. He refused to let Facebook fact-check politicians, and he argued that it was protected free speech.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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