Some inconvenient truths about Facebook ahead of the European elections

With the declared aim of protecting the integrity of the European elections, Facebook’s new political advertisement rules are preventing these elections from being truly European. 

After revelations about how third countries and unidentified organizations sponsored targeted content during the 2016 Brexit referendum, Facebook has put in place new rules for political advertisement in all EU Member States. 

Under these new rules, paid political content is only allowed in the country where the advertisement buyer is based. While this might make sense in the United States such an approach is not fit for purpose in a jurisdiction like Europe, which is made up of 28 countries. As a result of the new rules, EU political parties are prevented from using Facebook, Facebook Messenger and lnstagram for their EU-wide paid communication campaigns. These rules affect not only EU political parties but also EU institutions, as well as hundreds of not-for-profit organizations and citizen movements currently running get-out-to-vote campaigns across the continent. In other words, any European organization whose members and constituency extend beyond one country is put on the same level as foreign entities attempting to interfere in EU elections.

In so doing, Facebook denies the pan-European dimension of the European elections that stems from our unique EU-wide constitutional arrangement. Facebook’s new policy creates a major barrier to the exercise of both EU electoral rights (which are by definition pan-EU) and free movement rights (such as cross-border advertising). 

What is worse, the new Facebook policy also fails to make the European elections more secure: any influencer – inside or outside the EU – who wants to sway EU elections can still buy political advertisements at national level and reach all Europeans. This is deeply troubling, particularly with fewer than 30 days to the European elections. 

This story reveals three disturbing, inconvenient truths. 

First, the European Union, like any other governmental authority, is highly dependent on Facebook and similar platforms to reach out to the public. The Facebook network ecosystem – consisting of Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – emerges as an inescapable infrastructure for governments when discharging their own prerogatives, ranging from organizing the vote, informing the public about their electoral rights and mobilizing citizens to vote.  In other words, the EU, its governments and political parties need Facebook to do their job.

Second, while this should ring an alarm bell to any government and political candidate ahead of the European elections, they all seem deaf to such a call. Today any policymaker faces the inherent conflict of interest of being expected to govern Facebook while being reliant on it for re-election. 

Third, Facebook – not our governments – is setting the rules of the democratic game. Facebook defines what qualifies as a political advertisement and who may promote it. Facebook polices its own self-imposed rules, acting as gatekeeper to its network infrastructure without being subject to corresponding public scrutiny. So, in the absence of any regulation, Facebook is the acting de facto regulator of European public discourse ahead of and beyond the next European elections.

However, Facebook’s license to govern itself and our societies is not the inevitable result of impersonal forces such as globalization or automation: it results from a deliberate choice made by our political representatives to let Facebook self-regulate, regardless of the manifest externalities of their action.

I can’t imagine a more important challenge for incoming members of the European Parliament.

Cover pic:


  1. Pingback: Facebook and the European elections | The European Post

  2. Pingback: top custom essay services

  3. Pingback: write my research paper online

  4. Pingback:

  5. Pingback: phd thesis writing service

  6. Pingback: generic viagra india

  7. Pingback: viagra

  8. Pingback: cialis 20 mg

  9. Pingback: cheapest cialis india

  10. Pingback: admission essay writing services

  11. Pingback: pay to write my essay

  12. Pingback: need someone to write my essay

  13. Pingback: marijuana vs prescription drugs

  14. Pingback: cymbalta walmart $4

  15. Pingback: viagra professional

  16. Pingback: viagra online pharmacy

  17. Pingback: sildenafil 100mg

  18. Pingback: purchase viagra online

  19. Pingback: cialis best price

  20. Pingback: tadalafil cialis 5mg

  21. Pingback: generic cialis canada

  22. Pingback: cialisglass

  23. Pingback: viagra pills

  24. Pingback: sildenafil 90mg

  25. Pingback: can you buy viagra canada

  26. Pingback: womens viagra

  27. Pingback: viagra for sale online

  28. Pingback: natural viagra

  29. Pingback: cheap sildenafil uk

  30. Pingback: buy sildenafil 100mg uk

  31. Pingback: discount canadian viagra

  32. Pingback: cialis on the web

  33. Pingback: sildenafil 200mg for sale

  34. Pingback: ivermectin pour on for cats

  35. Pingback: how we can make natural viagra at home

  36. Pingback: white pill like viagra

  37. Pingback: viagra price comparison rite aid

  38. Pingback: overnight cialis

  39. Pingback: best places to buy generic viagra online

  40. Pingback: side effects of sildenafil

  41. Pingback: Take A Look At The Site Here

  42. Pingback: buy sildenafil online

  43. Pingback: loans bad credit ok

  44. Pingback: 99 slots no deposit bonus 2016