Digital Advocacy and the Parameters for Running Social, Political, or Election Ads on Facebook 

Everywhere you scroll nowadays, you will inevitably encounter a large chunk of advertisements all over your social media feeds. These ads, often carefully curated by hard-working marketing teams across the world, know you intimately and focus on your wants, needs, interests and everything in between.  

Amid this sea of ads lies a distinct category – social, political and election ads. These ads serve not only as marketing tools but also as vehicles for advocacy and public discourse. As you might expect, behind these ads lies a web of regulations and verification processes, especially on platforms like Facebook. They are aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability.  

If you’re a marketer in the process of setting up social, political and election ads, the process to do so may seem daunting and a bit complicated (it certainly was for me as I recently tackled this dilemma for a client). But with a little guidance, you can find a smooth, seamless experience for getting your advocacy ads in front of your desired audience.  

Understanding Meta’s Policy Guidelines 

Facebook’s Transparency Center outlines all the necessary details of its policy with an emphasis on transparency, accountability and authenticity. Its guidelines require all advertisers who choose to run ads about social issues, elections or politics to complete the authorization process through Meta (with an exception made for news publishers identified by Meta). Along with this, a “paid for by” disclaimer must be included and verified on all ads to show the person responsible for running the ad. Lastly, advertisers are asked to be transparent if their ads include digitally altered content, like changed images or videos. This includes content designed to mislead viewers into believing that people said or did things they haven’t as well as made-up individuals or events, or misrepresented recordings of real events. 

Meta’s Definition of Social, Political, or Election Ads 

Quite possibly the most confusing part of this process is identifying if your ads even fall under the bucket of social, political, or election-based ads. In today’s highly politicized environment, anything and everything can potentially be construed as political. In fact, this polling by Gallup shows over the past two decades, partisan gaps on all of the highlighted issues (24  in total) have either remained roughly the same or expanded.  

With polarization at an all-time high, Meta has chosen a pretty wide-ranging and vague description of what can be considered social or political. According to Meta, “ads that seek to influence public opinion through discussion, or debate or advocacy for or against important topics, like health and civil and social rights” fall under this purview. Also included is a list of keywords of top-level social issues considered in determining which ads need authorization and disclaimers. This list does not cover everything that Meta would consider social or political but is a good place to reference when considering your ads: 

  • Civil and social rights 
  • Crime 
  • Economy 
  • Education 
  • Environmental politics 
  • Guns 
  • Health 
  • Immigration 
  • Political values and governance 
  • Security and foreign policy 

In Meta’s Business Help Center, you can find a full breakdown of what is considered social or political issues. 

The Verification Process 

Now that you have a better grasp of Meta’s policies and its parameters for social, political and election ads, it’s time to go through the steps to verify yourself to run your ads. This process requires three steps to verify your identity and will take anywhere from 7-21 days to complete, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time ahead of your ad launch to ensure a smooth start to your campaigns. 

To start, you will need to visit  

Afterwards, click “get started,” where you’ll be prompted with rationales for verification. Click on “Running ads about social issues, elections or politics”. 

After confirming the country in which your ads will run, you’ll be guided through the processes to confirm your identity. 

If you do not have two-factor authentication already applied, Facebook will give you the option to do so with your phone number, authentication app or security key. 

Next, you will need to upload one form of identification, either a U.S. passport, driver’s license or State ID card. 

Once you have submitted your identification, Facebook will then mail you a letter within 3-5 business days with a unique code and instructions on where to enter the code and receive approval.  

The final step will require printing Facebook’s “Verification of Identity” letter and venturing to a local notary public to notarize and reupload to Facebook. You will have 30 days from when you entered the unique code to do this, or you will have to start the process over. 

Navigating the realm of digital advocacy ads on Facebook involves understanding and adhering to a complex set of guidelines and verification processes. By following Meta’s policies of transparency, accountability and authenticity, advertisers can not only comply with regulatory requirements but also foster trust and credibility with their audience. As digital advocacy continues to play a pivotal role in shaping public discourse, mastering these parameters is key to making a meaningful impact in the digital sphere. 

Alejandro Leon

A Florida native who grew up in Northern Virginia, Alejandro began his Hodges career as a COVID-era intern where he showcased his writing talents for The Phil and made his bones on the media relations front. Prior to re-joining Hodges, he worked as a Digital Marketing Analyst at Team Velocity Marketing.

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