Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) said Thursday that "technical issues" with its system caused “unanticipated issues” which affected the presidential campaigns of both the Republicans and Democrats.
What Happened: The Mark Zuckerberg-led company said in a statement that technical flaws in its systems caused a number of advertisements from a wide range of advertisers to be paused improperly.
The flaw was related to the system’s ability to detect if an ad had been properly recorded in a searchable library, the social media behemoth said.
The company said that its investigations have revealed that some ads were paused because advertisers had made changes to the targeting shortly before the deadline, which created new ads that needed to be approved and delivered before the deadline.
Facebook made it clear that no ad was “paused or rejected by a person, or because of any partisan consideration.”
Why It Matters: Facebook had said last month that it would not accept new political ads in the week before the election, and had said at the time it was giving “ample time” for ad campaigns to be set up correctly.
Democratic contender Joe Biden’s campaign said the Facebook glitch affected ads that had been approved to run and cost the candidate half-million dollars in projected donations, according to Politico.
Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty demanded the social media giant “take steps today to clearly rectify and explain the depth of this fiasco.”
“It is abundantly clear that Facebook was wholly unprepared to handle this election despite having four years to prepare,” said Flaherty.
Tim Lim, a Democratic political advertising consultant, told Adweek that the glitches occurred at the “most crucial time before the elections” — adding, “it’s a real disservice to voters and it’s a real disservice to democracy.”
Media buyers, political operatives and campaigns have been working around the clock to beat Facebook's deadline—and then the system basically broke. “All that work has been for naught,” @TimLimDC told me.
— Scott Nover (@ScottNover) October 27, 2020
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign sent Facebook advertisements — seen by nearly 200,000 voters — in Florida, Arizona, and Georgia, which erroneously claimed it was election day and urged people to go out and vote, the Financial Times reported.
It is not clear if a glitch was responsible for the advertisement to be sent out a week earlier, or the Trump campaign actually intended to advertise it on the day, noted FT.
Price Action: Facebook shares closed nearly 4.9% higher at $280.83 on Thursday and fell 2.65% in the after-hours session.
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