December 11, 2023

Meta Bans Political Advertisers From Using Generative AI Tools

Political advertisers and campaigners are prohibited from using Meta’s new generative AI tools under the company’s updated policies, announced a Meta spokesperson. Informational pages in the tech giant’s help center were updated on November 6 to reflect the policy change.

The move is aimed at curbing the misuse of generative AI in sensitive areas where misinformation and fake images can potentially cause significant harm.

In addition to political ads, the restriction on the use of generative AI will also extend to ad campaigns “for Housing, Employment or Credit or Social Issues, Elections, or Politics, or related to Health, Pharmaceuticals or Financial Services”, read a public note from Meta.

Implications of the Policy Change

Meta’s decision comes about a month after these tools were first launched. It was in early October that the tech giant started rolling out generative AI features to help advertisers generate marketing content.

Initially rolled out to a select group of advertisers, these tools will be rolled out to all advertisers across the globe by 2023, Meta stated at the time.

Such tools can essentially be of great help to advertisers, but following the policy change, not everyone advertising on Meta platforms can use them.

These artificial intelligence tools can be used for generating multiple versions of ad texts and different backgrounds.

One of the tools in question also helps brands improve their ads by proposing changes, such as applying 3D animations or suggesting music tracks.

Meta’s note regarding the policy change stated that the company’s new approach would help it get a better understanding of potential risks.

This, in turn, would make for the development of appropriate safeguards to prevent the misuse of generative AI in the creation of advertisements on potentially sensitive topics.

Senator Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday described Meta’s move as a “step in the right direction”, pointing out the potential of deceptive AI in hampering democracy and causing voters to doubt the credibility of videos of electoral candidates.

However, she also added that relying on voluntary commitments won’t be enough to curb the spread of misinformation using AI-generated content.

Growing Efforts to Ban AI in Political Ads

Meta isn’t the first major company to take a step towards preventing the misuse of AI in political advertisements. Google updated its political content policy in September, mandating all verified political advertisers to disclose the use of AI in their ad content.

The updated standards require clear and conspicuous notices for “synthetic content that inauthentically depicts real or realistic-looking people or events”.

While political ads are banned altogether on TikTok, Snapchat fact-checks all political ads through human review and vets them for any misleading use of AI-generated content.

The use of AI in creating political advertisements and propaganda has also been a hot topic in the US Senate. A group of bipartisan senators in September introduced legislation to ban political advertisers from using AI deepfakes in their ads.

Civil society groups and lawmakers have repeatedly warned about how AI-generated content can upend the democratic process by misleading the general public. The Federal Election Commission began a process in August that could potentially result in the prohibition or regulation of the use of AI in political campaigns.

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