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Facebook lifts political ad ban for Georgia elections

The company announced Tuesday that starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT, advertisers will be able to start targeting Georgia with ads about the upcoming Senate runoff election there. All other political ads, however, will still be prohibited.

Facebook said the decision was a response to feedback from experts and advertisers in recent weeks. "We agree that our ad tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections," Product Manager Sarah Schiff wrote in a blog post.

Political campaigns, organizations and even charities have been pressing Facebook for more than a month to lift its political ad ban, which began on Election Day in the United States. They argued that the ban gave the incumbents in the race, including Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, an advantage over challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.

The ban pushed millions of dollars in political advertising, mostly from the right, to other digital platforms like Hulu that don't have the same disclosure policies as Facebook does. The situation was further complicated by the fact that some far-right news outlets, like The Daily Wire, appeared to be using their exemption as news outlets to circumvent the ban and push explicitly political ads in the weeks since Election Day. Other far right groups including the viral video company PragerU also had political ads slip through Facebook's filters. Meanwhile, partisan outlets on the left, including the ones affiliated with Courier Newsroom, continued to see their ads blocked and lost roughly half of their traffic over the last month.

Facebook said advertisers will still need to go through its authentication process to run political ads in Georgia and that the company will "prioritize onboarding advertisers with direct involvement in these elections, including the campaigns, state and local elections officials, and state and national political parties."

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