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Facebooks political ad rules unchanged as election looms, Selmayr complains

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Martin Selmayr is not pleased with Facebook.

With a European Parliament election just weeks away, the social media giant has yet to change its cross-border political advertising rules to allow pan-EU campaigns by institutions and political parties, according to officials from the European Commission and the European Parliament.

“To date, we have had no firm indication that the European Commission would be exempt from Facebooks single country approach for political advertisement,” reads a letter obtained by POLITICO and sent by the Commissions secretary general Martin Selmayr to non-governmental groups that also complained about Facebooks ad rules.

The letter comes after the social media giant faced a backlash last month from the three main EU institutions — the Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the EU — because of its policy on cross-border political advertising.

A group of NGOs, including The Good Lobby and Alliance 4 Europe, also wrote to the Commission to complain about the restrictions, which de facto make campaigning across the European Union very difficult, if not impossible.

“There is no evidence that Facebook has corrected its rules, the status quo is in place” — Dara Murphy, European Peoples Party campaign manager

Under the current rules, Facebook requires all advertisers to register in the country where they wish to purchase political advertising, as part of an effort to limit foreign influence in national campaigns. But a senior Facebook official said the company was looking into lifting some of those restrictions.

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“We are open to temporary exceptions for EU institutions and political groups, but we need the approval of national election administrations and hope it will be forthcoming for the coming days,” Facebooks VP for Global Affairs Nick Clegg said at a press briefing in late April, confirming a POLITICO report that the tech company had given positive signs to the European Parliament.

But days away from the election, the exceptions are still not in place.

“We will continue to raise this matter with Facebook,” Selmayr wrote in his letter, dated May 5.

“We are expecting to see more details about Facebooks proposals and stand ready to discuss them,” a Commission spokesperson said in a statement.

In the European Parliament, EU political groups did not see any changes in the rules either, two Parliament insiders told POLITICO.

“There is no evidence that Facebook has corrected its rules, the status quo is in place,” said European Peoples PartRead More – Source

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