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Facebook back away from the hard sell to political ads

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Facebook Inc. said it had stopped paying commissions to employees who sell political ads, because the tech giant to overhaul how it engages with campaigns ahead of the elections in 2020.

Once seen as a growth area, political ads can now be viewed within Facebook if you are more of a headache, according to former employees and campaign staff members who work with digital strategies. In the aftermath of the revelations about the Russian efforts to influence 2016 election, senior leaders in the company discussed whether it should stop running political ads, former employees familiar with the discussions said. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg made the last call to stay in the company, but the changes will be made to the way in which it operates, an ex-employee said.

Assessment of Facebook’s role in the political process has only been strengthened in the past 18 months, with accusations that the platforms are used for attempted election manipulation efforts on six continents.

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Facebook’s new approach to political ad sales is designed to eliminate the incentives for the employees to on a more-is-better strategy with campaigns. The ad portal for the purchase of campaigns is now largely self-serve, with Facebook staff members are available to assist campaigns to register to buy ads, to help you if you do certain ads to sit in the review and provision of other basic customer service. Sellers are no longer paid on the basis of the achievement or exceed targets relating to advertising purchased to promote a candidate or a political messaging in the united states and abroad, said Katie Harbath, Facebook global elections public policy of the director.

Employees who previously could earn commissions have their base salary increased to compensate for the changes, said a former Facebook employee. The company declined to discuss details about the fee.

Ms. Harbath said that the company views the political-ad business as a social responsibility rather than a sales driver. The company declined to comment on the question of whether that business is profitable on its own.

The changes are effective from the national to the local level to avoid the impression that Facebook is the task of the candidates or campaigns, preferential treatment.

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“It doesn’t matter if you’re running for president or running for the city council. You have access to the same tools and level of support,” Ms. Harbath said.

To be sure, while some presidential campaigns have noticed that there is a change in the services in comparison with the previous elections cycles, there are still a number of designated Facebook employees that they coordinate with outside of the self-service portal, digital-campaign staff members said.

Facebook’s new political-ad model is a strong change of the 2016 election, in which the a digital and rival Google both offered extensive advertising advice to Trump and Clinton campaigns. Trump’s campaign, with a smaller and generally less experienced digital staff, took the companies’ offers to a greater extent.

Click here for more from The Wall Street Journal.

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