Facebook takes down Conservative ad that featured BBC content | #TheCube

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By Seana Davis
Facebook takes down Conservative ad that featured BBC content | #TheCube

It may be hailed 'The Brexit Election' but the role of social media and tactics used by political parties have become one of the key talking points as voters prepare to head to the polls.

On November 28, the Conservatives published a Facebook advertisement featuring clips and commentary from UK public broadcaster BBC, featuring journalists Huw Edwards and Laura Kuenssberg.

On December 1, Facebook took down the advertisement. But why was the advert controversial?

It's all in the edit

The advert had featured very short snippets from BBC journalists, such as Kuenssberg, saying lines such as "pointless delay" when it comes to Brexit and ended with the tagline "get Brexit done". Much of the concern surrounded the edited nature of the content - with their words taken out of the original context and pushed along party lines.

The BBC had expressed their concern and published a statement on Twitter. The Press Team said that it was a "completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality".

On Facebook ad Library on December 1, the advert had been removed, with Facebook citing that it conflicted with their policy on intellectual property.

In a statement to Euronews, Facebook said: "We have removed this content following a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC. Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required.”

How should social media companies deal with political advertising?

Although Facebook took down the advert, this forms part of a broader discussion around political advertisements.

Twitter, Facebook and Google have all laid out their stance on political advertising ahead of the UK elections - with Twitter banning ads by politicians while Google has said that they will ban ads that make "demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process".

Facebook has come under fire for their policy - announcing earlier this year that they will not fact-check political speech on their platform.

For some, the fact that Facebook banned this advert on copyright grounds, rather than its "misrepresentations," provides an issue at the heart of its political advert policy. "It always amazes me that ownership and property, which are still a type of 'fact', outrank truthfulness," researcher Marc Owen Jones said on Twitter.

Facebook and other social media companies have called on government regulations to come to a consensus on how to tackle issues such as political advertising. Some commentators took to social to call for more regulation following Facebook's decision to pull the Conservative advert featuring BBC content.

Click on the player above as Seana Davis in The Cube explains more.