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Facebook to ban political ads based on voters’ caste, religion

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In a move that could force political parties to change their social media strategy during upcoming state elections, the social networking platform Facebook is planning to stop allowing political advertisements targeting caste and religion on its platform.

Political parties during election time use micro-targeting factors like caste and religion to reach their target audience. This will not be allowed on Facebook, said a Moneycontrol report.

Though they still can place normal political ads as they do in other media such as newspaper, TV and radio.

The dates are still unknown as from when the new norms will come into effect. Facebook is yet to officially confirm the development.

Entrackr’s queries to Facebook in this regard did not elicit a response till this report was published.

The move is said to follow micro-blogging site Twitter’s announcement of a ban on political ads, which will come into force from Nov 22. Twitter had said that political message reach should be earned, not bought.

Till date, Facebook, which has 294 million users in the country, has no fact chacking mechanism in place for political advertisers.

This has led to an upsurge in caste and religion-based advertisements. The move is said to curb these practices in India, where Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand and Puducherry are next in line for assembly elections.

In the last couple of years, the social networking platform along with its messaging app WhatsApp, Bytdance-owned TikTok, and ShareChat, has emerged as a go-to platform for political parties to run their views and propaganda to attract as well as manipulate voter base.

In India, political parties spent about Rs 28 crore on Facebook advertisements in 2019 parliamentary election. The ruling party BJP emerged as the biggest advertiser, spending about Rs 20 crore in political ads.

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