Meta, which owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, is reportedly planning to completely stop running political advertisements on its platforms in Europe.
The development comes as policymakers in Brussels are working on new laws that will target digital campaigns.
The new rules, which are set to take effect in 2024, will require major internet companies like Meta and Google to disclose information regarding the political organisations behind online advertisements and the users they are targeting.
The law may also require tech giants to divulge the identity of people or organisations that paid for the advertisement, how much was paid, and numbers of views the ads garnered.
Sources privy to the development told the Financial Times that Meta is concerned that the definition of political advertising could be so broad under the new laws that its social media platforms may not be able to comply with them.
The new regulation in Europe comes amidst rising concerns that content on social media platforms is manipulating voters and affecting the outcome of the elections.
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The topic garnered significant public attention after the US presidential election in 2016 and the UK’s referendum on EU membership.
However, the decision to ban political ads in Europe is unlikely to have any significant impact on the company’s overall revenues.
According to research firm Insider Intelligence, the company’s overall revenues from political advertising in the US between 2019 and 2020 was under $800m, less than 1% of its overall advertising revenue during that period.
The talks between top Meta executives are still ongoing, sources close to the discussions said, adding that some of them even opposed the ban on political ads.
Although Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, contends that for-profit businesses should not act as “arbiters of truth,” the company has temporarily stopped political advertising before and during important elections, such as the US 2020 presidential election.