It’s looking like another scandal-ridden election cycle for Mark Zuckerberg. Despite critique of harboring “fake news” in recent years, Facebook isn’t giving up on election content.
Following much internal debate, CEO Zuckerberg reportedly gave his approval for the platform to run political advertisements ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election, the Wall Street Journal reported.
After contemplating forgoing collecting the profits on political content for the next 18 months, it seems Zuckerberg and co. decided to keep allowing campaigns to advertise on Facebook. This is no surprise, considering revenue from these ads has rapidly increased in recent years. During the 2018 midterm elections, for example, candidates reportedly spent almost $9 billion to get their ads run on the world’s biggest social network.
While the business practice will continue—and presumably draw more ire from the public—the company plans to scale back its employees’ push to sell more ads. Instead of receiving bonus incentives like last election, Facebook’s ad-selling employees will now merely act as guides to campaigns looking to advertise on the site.
The news comes at a time when Facebook is implementing a shift to “privacy-focused” connection tools. The company is attempting to deliver on Zuckerberg’s promise of an encryption-friendly Facebook experience. Earlier this year, he outlined his plans for the platform’s future, writing “I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms.”
Facebook’s 2020 embroilments are also being felt on the campaign trail this cycle. The company, along with other tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Apple, are being called on to break up by candidates like Elizabeth Warren. Back in March, the Massachusetts senator proposed regulators should split up powerful Silicon Valley entities such as Facebook.
“They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else,” Warren wrote in a Medium post earlier this year. “And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”
Facebook is also currently dealing with the fallout of its recent antitrust scandals, for which it’s paying major FTC fines for the privacy breaches it caused.