Facebook Kills Misleading Election Ads, Cites Intellectual Property Reasons

Intellectual Property RightsNews    December 5, 2019
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Over the weekend, Facebook (FB) banned a British election ad from the Conservative Party after the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) complained that the footage distorted its journalism.

However, it was just for business reasons that had nothing to do with freedom of speech – Intellectual property Rights.

The BBC complained that the fifteen seconds ad in question includes a video from the Conservative Party that used news clips from it and could damage the perceptions of its impartiality.

CNN business, a financial information and news website, reported that the ad in question showed clips of BBC journalists saying things such as ‘pointless delay to Brexit’ beside a montage of protest footage and discussions in parliament, set to dramatic music. But, the clips were from journalists quoting statements of politicians, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is going to campaign in the December 12 election with the slogan ‘get Brexit done.’

According to Facebook’s ad library, the ad started on 28th November 2019 had been viewed around 430,000 times for a cost of about $12,930 till December 1 when it was replaced with the below message provided in the library:

“This ad was taken down as it goes against Facebook’s Intellectual Property (IP) policies.”

The BBC said that they first asked the Conservative Party to take the ad down, but the party declined. Hence, they approached FB, which banned it.

Facebook said that it was a valid IP claim from the rights holder, i.e., the BBC, as the Conservative Party had used its footage without permission.

Facebook’s spokesperson added that whenever they receive valid IP claims against any content on their platform, whether in advertisements or elsewhere, they take the required action according to their policies.

As per Facebook’s advertising policies, ads must never contain content that violates or infringes on the rights of others, including copyright, trademark, and other personal or proprietary rights.

Well, the social media giant’s policy on the election or political ads has received severe criticism worldwide. The United Kingdom (UK) imposes rules on how broadcasters can report on political biases, especially around elections. As newspapers hold the freedom to impart politics, broadcasters should be impartial. Since the BBC is publicly funded, it often faces intense scrutiny.

The analysis prompted Twitter to announce that it would limit political ads in the upcoming month.

Facebook, rather than addressing the BBC’s claim that its materials had been used misleadingly, stuck to the legal arguments.

If we talk about the Conservative Party, it did not respond to CNN’s request for comment but announced that all political parties use BBC’s content. The Party added that it would ask the BBC if they, in the interests of fairness, intend to complain against other political parties that are using their content. For more visit: https://www.kashishipr.com/ 

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