Facebook’s “Political Content Disclaimer” and What to Do When Your Ads Get Rejected
If you’re in the liberty space and creating Facebook ads, you may have noticed that your ads are getting rejected more often lately.
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal reached its climax in April 2018, Facebook started feeling pressure to be more transparent about their advertising practices. As a result, they’ve changed a lot of things for advertisers. Some of those changes include no longer being able to target audiences based on religious affiliation or job title, or exclude based on political affiliation.
One of the most obvious changes is that Facebook now explicitly identifies all political ad content with a small banner.
All “political advertisers” are required to prove their identity by submitting their home address and social security number, uploading 2 forms of government-issued ID, and then marking each of their ads as “containing political content.” (Google has a similar process for “elections ads”, but for organizations, not individuals.)
Facebook’s definition of “political content” is both long and vague. See for yourself:
With a list this vague, how can Facebook enforce equal and standard compliance? They can’t, unfortunately. Which is why this happens:
Ever since this policy came into effect, we’ve noticed our ads are getting rejected more frequently. Even when they follow this political advertising policy exactly. (The above ad is for a video about political correctness and free speech. The kicker is that we set up 3 identical ad sets for this campaign — 2 were approved and 1 was not.)
Thankfully, getting rejected doesn’t affect your cost per result, reach, or ability to push ads in the long-term. It’s just a temporary nuisance.
So what can you do? How can you remedy the madness? Without further ado, here’s 3 things you can do to get your wrongly rejected ads back on track.
Option A: Appeal the rejection.
I used to get nervous, and sometimes offended, when my ads were rejected. Until I discovered what’s really going on.
Algorithms are what initially determine whether your ads are in compliance with Facebook’s advertising policies. They can guess what your ads are about, whether they’re videos, links, or images, without a human ever glancing at them.
The algorithms take a guess and sometimes they guess wrong. That’s why your totally compliant ads are rejected.
Your first option to right this wrong is to appeal the rejection. (Note: if your ad was rejected because “Facebook determines that it does/does not contain political content,” skip this solution and try Option B or C instead.)
You should receive an email from “Facebook Ads Team” that looks something like this:
Click the “Learn More” button to view the ad. At this point you should have the option to write a sentence or two to a real human and explain why your ad is compliant as is:
Option B: Edit your ad to be in compliance.
This option is ideal if your ad has been rejected because “Facebook has determined it does/does not contain political content.”
As we established earlier, the “political content disclaimer” policy is very vague, so it’s no surprise that its enforcement is arbitrary. My ads get rejected for “containing political content” when they actually don’t and for not being “political” when they actually are about political issues. Sometimes an ad will get approved, and then when I clone it, the clone will be rejected.
The simplest way I’ve found to get my ads through the approval process is to just do whatever Facebook wants. I use my best judgement to classify them initially. If one or more of them get rejected, then I just check or uncheck the “contains political content” box, resubmit it, and get on with my life.
I rarely appeal ads when they get rejected over the political content disclaimer. It’s much faster and more effective to check or uncheck the disclaimer box and republish the ad.
Option C: Clone the ad(s) and have them go through the system again.
Sometimes you just can’t get your completely kosher ads to be approved. You submit an appeal, or check the dumb box, and it’s been a day or two, and you haven’t heard back from anyone. Your ads are stuck in “approval limbo.”
I’ve waited weeks at times for my ads to be approved, and gotten no response. It’s immensely frustrating.
My new rule is to wait 1–2 days on an appeal. If I don’t hear back by then, I just clone the ad and publish it again.
I’ll clone an ad that’s stuck in “approval limbo” as many times as it takes to get approved. Usually, it never takes more than twice.
It’s Not Just Facebook
Google has also introduced a requirement to verify in run political content, and the strategies and frustrations described above apply equally to Google Ads:
Never Stress Over Getting Your Ads Rejected
If your ads get rejected, it’s definitely a nuisance. But there’s no reason to fret. Remember that it’s probably a mistaken algorithm. Take a deep breath and follow one of the steps above to get it approved.