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Facebook to Allow Political Messages but Not Ads

Facebook to Allow Paid Political Messages That Aren't Ads

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Facebook decided Friday to allow a type of paid political message but won't show politicl ads. Pixabay

Facebook decided Friday to allow a type of paid political message that had sidestepped many of the social network’s rules governing political ads.

Its policy change came days after presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg exploited a loophole to run such humorous messages promoting his campaign on the accounts of popular Instagram personalities followed by millions of younger people.

The change involves what Facebook calls “branded content” — sponsored items posted by ordinary users who are typically paid by companies or organizations. Advertisers pay the influential users directly to post about their brand.

Facebook decided Friday to allow a type of paid political message that had sidestepped many of the social network’s rules governing political ads.

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The logo for Facebook at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. VOA

Its policy change came days after presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg exploited a loophole to run such humorous messages promoting his campaign on the accounts of popular Instagram personalities followed by millions of younger people.

The change involves what Facebook calls “branded content” — sponsored items posted by ordinary users who are typically paid by companies or organizations. Advertisers pay the influential users directly to post about their brand.

The Bloomberg campaign took the unconventional step of paying social media influencers — individuals with huge followings — to post Bloomberg memes using their Instagram accounts. Different versions of the sponsored posts from the Bloomberg campaign ran on more than a dozen influential Instagram accounts, each of which has millions of followers.

That effort skirted many of the rules that tech companies have imposed on political ads to safeguard U.S. elections from malicious foreign and domestic interference and misinformation. Online political ads have been controversial, especially after it was revealed Russia used them to try to influence the 2016 presidential election. In response, Facebook has rolled out rules to prevent a repeat of that, though it has declined to fact-check political ads and refuses to ban even blatantly false messages.

The Bloomberg campaign’s memes showed the 78-year-old candidate, in a tongue-in-cheek awkward fashion, chatting with popular social media influencers with names like “Tank Sinatra,” asking them to help him raise his profile among younger folk.

“Can you post a meme that lets everyone know I’m the cool candidate?” Bloomberg wrote in one of the exchanges posted by an account called F*** Jerry, which has nearly 15 million followers on Instagram. The candidate then sent a photo of him wearing baggy chino shorts, an orange polo and a zip-up vest.

F*** Jerry’s account then replied, “Ooof that will cost like a billion dollars.” Bloomberg responded by asking where to send the money.

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Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of “Mike for Black America,” at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. VOA

Looking to broaden audience

With the sponsored posts, Bloomberg’s campaign said it was reaching those who might not be normally interested in the day-to-day developments of politics.

“You want to engage people at every platform and you want them to feel like they’re not just getting a canned generic statement,” campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said of the campaign’s strategy.

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The campaign declined to say how much it paid for the sponsored posts, or if it had more of them in the works. The posts did not appear in Facebook’s ad transparency library, which catalogs the political ads that campaigns buy directly from Facebook or Instagram and tells users how much was spent on them. Bloomberg’s campaign told The Associated Press on Thursday that Instagram does not require the campaign to disclose that information on the sponsored posts it ran earlier this week.  (VOA)

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HP Unveils Variety of Relief Initiatives For Partners, Customers

Partners can opt in for customized online digital learning paths designed to meet their specific priorities

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In addition, the company has shifted its customer engagement model to an online platform across a broad set of topics including office printing, security, mobility solutions and HP services. Pixabay

PC and printer major HP Inc. on Thursday announced a variety of relief initiatives aimed at arming its global channel partner community to effectively navigate the operational and financial challenges associated with COVID-19.

Customers can also take advantage of a delayed payment structure or enroll in a PC rental programme, available on equipment contracts for a period of 12 months, said the company. After 12 months, rental devices can be extended, purchased or returned for an upgrade, it added.

In addition to providing a variety of financing and leasing options for end customers, the company will offer short-term, market and country-specific incentives for channel partners, the company said, adding that the offers will vary by geography and are dependent on partner eligibility.

In addition, HP has implemented a more predictable, flat-rate incentive programme and relaxed compensation models to allow for more partner flexibility with linearity while extending deadlines for submission of proof of performance and reporting.

“We’re structured to ensure the continuity of our business operations even under the most challenging circumstances and we feel very fortunate to be in a position to offer the help and support needed by our valued partners and customers,” Christoph Schell, Chief Commercial Officer, HP Inc., said in a statement.

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In partnership with its endorsed finance partners, HP is now offering a variety of financial and asset lifecycle options, including deferred/reduced payments until 2021, short term rentals and cash infusion for customer-owned HP devices through a sale leaseback programme.

Qualified customers can convert existing, owned workplace assets into a payment solution or acquire technology needed today with reduced payments for the remainder of 2020 to alleviate temporary cash flow challenges.

The company earlier announced advanced security solutions to provide complete threat protection for businesses and their remote workforces. In addition to offering tips and advice online, HP is also offering free customer webinars to help set up home offices securely.

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PC and printer major HP Inc. on Thursday announced a variety of relief initiatives aimed at arming its global channel partner community to effectively navigate the operational and financial challenges associated with COVID-19. Pixabay

To help arm partners with the skills and knowledge required to optimise revenue and future-proof their business, HP University offers online, on-demand learning options across a variety of topics including sales skills education, product training and industry-leading certifications.

Partners can opt in for customized online digital learning paths designed to meet their specific priorities. HP shifted all events throughout fiscal 2020 (ending October 31, 2020) to virtual engagement models. In addition, the company has shifted its customer engagement model to an online platform across a broad set of topics including office printing, security, mobility solutions and HP services.

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To address heightened demand for customer support, HP said it has cross-trained agents to manage multiple queues, established access to work-from-home technology for agents, and leveraging chat, social and web support options. (IANS)