Reddit announced that it will be publicly disclosing all political ads, along with a few other service requirements moving forward.
The announcement comes ahead of the elections in the fall, in an attempt to address transparency.
Reddit’s Definition of Political Advertisers
Previously, political ads were subject to the same scrutiny as all ads.
This meant they were forbidden to be “deceptive, untrue or misleading,” in keeping with the advertising policy as it already existed.
Reddit now specifically defines “political ads” to be any of the following:
- Ads related to campaigns or elections, or that solicit political donations.
- Ads that promote voting or voter registration (discouraging voting or voter registration is not allowed).
- Ads promoting political merchandise (for example, products featuring a public office holder or candidate, political slogans, etc.).
- Issue ads or advocacy ads pertaining to topics of potential legislative or political importance or placed by political organizations.
Reddit Advertising Policy Updates Tied to This Change
The policy specific to political ads has also been updated with the following specifications:
- All political ads will be manually approved.
- Political advertisers will need to present additional information to verify their identity.
- Obvious “paid for by” disclosures must be present.
- Political ads are only accepted within the U.S., at the federal level – no state/local, or outside U.S. election ads will be accepted
The revised policy now also includes several more requirements, specific to political advertising.
Among these, political advertisers much work directly with the Reddit sales team, and comments are required to be open for 24 hours.
Reddit notes the 24-hour comment requirement is to foster open discourse that the platform is known for.
Public Disclosure Subreddit Formed
To champion the transparency, they have also announced a subreddit which will chronicle all political advertising that has run on Reddit since January 1, 2019.
The subreddit will have one post per ad that has been run, with extensive detail about each one.
- Billing Name
- Billing Zip
- Negative Geo-targeting
- Targeted Subreddits
- Negatively Targeted Subreddits
- Interest Targeting
- Negative Interest Targeting
- Ad Duration
- Link to the Ad
There are also links to all the ads published by year, with links to both 2019 and 2020.
Reddit notes their accuracy rate during that time period was 92%.
Both announcements are listed at the top of r/PoliticalAds.
Timing of the Change
Platforms have grappled with this issue since Facebook’s public failing to patrol third-party political ads during the 2016 election.
They made a controversial decision at the start of 2020 to continue to allow political ads, with minor changes that included identity verification and “paid for by” disclaimers.
Facebook had also launched their ad transparency tools worldwide, but have since suspended support due to reduced ad monitor staffing tied to COVID-19.
Twitter elected to ban political ads altogether in October of last year, with bans also instituted by Spotify, TikTok, and Pinterest.
Google removed options allowing ads to be targeted based on items like voter registration and political affiliations.