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FEC: Disclaimers may be required for Facebook ads (or not)

By Kari Chisholm:

With half of all Americans (150 million) now on Facebook – and half of them using it every single day – Facebook has become a critical tool in the campaign toolbox. Winning campaigns are aggressively using Facebook to find supporters, communicate their message, and motivate them to action.

Here at Mandate Media, we’ve produced hundreds of millions of Facebook ad impressions for our clients. And they’re a very effective, inexpensive way to rapidly build an audience.

Correction: An earlier version of this post indicated that the FEC had issued a single draft opinion that was awaiting final approval. In fact, the FEC has issued two draft opinions for consideration.

One draft opinion (full pdf here) would require that Facebook ads carry a "paid for by" disclaimer - either on the ad itself or, more plausibly, on the website or Facebook page that the ad clicks through to.

A second draft opinion (full pdf here) would not require that Facebook ads carry a disclaimer, since the ads are so small as to make the disclaimer "impracticable." The second draft opinion notes that requiring the click-through landing page to include a disclaimer may be impractical, since campaigns often run ads sending visitors to pages that they don't control (perhaps news articles or third-party services.)

So, stay tuned. We'll keep you posted.

Got questions? Head to our Facebook page. We’ve got answers.

Update: The FEC decided not to act on this matter, failing to adopt either recommendation. So, for now, the rules are the same as they've always been - which is to say, there are no firm rules.

Posted by Kari Chisholm
on June 13, 2011 in
advertising, legal stuff, facebook.