In a few weeks, elections to the European Parliament will take place, but Facebook may prevent them. According to representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament, the giant of social networks is not in a hurry to change its rules for cross-border political advertising. And this, in turn, interferes with the organization and political parties of cross-border companies.
In a letter sent to Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr to non-governmental groups who complained about the advertising rules on Facebook, it states that “today we have no clear indication that the European Commission will be exempt from Facebook’s single country approach to political advertising.”
The letter came after a giant of social networks last month faced a negative reaction from the three main institutions of the EU – the parliament, the Commission and the Council of the EU – because of its cross-border political advertising policy.
According to its rules, Facebook requires all advertisers to register in the country where they want to make political advertising. This is done to limit foreign influence in national campaigns. However, Facebook said the company is considering lifting some of these restrictions.
“We are open to temporary exemptions for EU institutions and political groups, but we need approval from national electoral administrations, and we hope that this will happen in the coming days,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, told a press briefing at the end of April
However, in the European Parliament itself, EU political groups do not yet see any changes in the rules. Besides, it’s all too late. The campaign manager of the European People’s Party, Dara Murphy, noted that “the rules should be introduced years before the elections, not months and, of course, not days.”
Facebook said it was working on the problem. “Protecting the integrity of elections in the EU is a top priority for Facebook, and we are in constant dialogue with European institutions to find the best possible approach for this difficult and new situation,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “We are conducting a final legal review of the proposed changes, and I hope that this will be resolved as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, EU institutions and parties are turning to other social networks that do not have similar restrictions, such as Google and Twitter. As you might guess, all this is not conducive to the popularity of Facebook.
If changes are introduced in the coming days, it will still leave time for EU-wide campaigns in the last days before the elections, said Sibren Quistra, campaign manager for the European Green Party. “They promised a decision this week, they need to keep that promise. If we have to wait longer, it will greatly hinder our electoral strategy and make me think about the intentions of Facebook.”
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website