Mike Bloomberg's ploy to reach voters through bad Instagram memes may be tacky, but it is not violating any Facebook or Instagram rules, as long as creators disclose paid partnerships. "After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there's a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms," Facebook said in a statement provided to Engadget.
Influencers have had to disclose paid partnerships for a while, but usually those are for products. Now, they'll have to do the same thing when they're pushing paid political content.
Facebook previously prohibited political entities from posting branded content because its policies were written for all forms of monetization, including both ads and sponsored content, and the company didn't want to be seen as supporting any candidate. This isn't a problem with branded content, though, as Facebook isn't involved in the actual transaction.
Sponsored content, even paid political memes, will not be archived in Facebook's political Ad Library, unless the creator pays to boost the post, a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge. Because paid partnerships like Bloomberg's memes won't be considered political ads, they'll be subject to slightly different rules. For now, these guidelines apply only in the US.
Facebook's full statement is below:
"Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it's important people know when they're seeing paid content on our platforms. That's why we have an Ad Library where anyone can see who paid for an ad and why we require creators to disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools. After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there's a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms. 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."