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Furious Biden camp lashes out at Facebook for mistakenly blocking thousands of approved campaign ads

Joe Biden's team have lashed out at Facebook for mistakenly blocking thousands of approved campaign ads as the tech giant blames the error on glitches. 

In an effort to stop new political advertising being introduced in the final stretch of US election campaigning, Facebook Inc. announced last month it would impose a temporary ban on new political ads.

But the moratorium, which is designed to clamp down on misinformation by only allowing pre-approved ads, has been sharply criticized by Biden's campaign team for blocking thousands of advertisements which had already been given the go-ahead by the tech giant.   

Biden's digital director Rob Flaherty called the situation a 'fiasco' - adding that the mistake was leading to 'widespread issues that are plaguing all of our ad campaigns since the onset of new ad restrictions'.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.

The Biden campaign's Digital Director Rob Flaherty issued a statement on Twitter in which he called the blocking of Biden ads a 'fiasco'

'It is currently unclear to us whether or not Facebook is giving Donald Trump an unfair electoral advantage in this particular instance,' Flaherty added.  

 'But it is abundantly clear that Facebook was wholly unprepared to handle this election despite having four years to prepare.'

Yesterday, Flaherty said on Twitter that the campaign's systems broke 'within seconds of launching the silly, performative pre-election hoop-jumping exercise.' 

The Trump campaign confirmed that some of its ads had also been blocked. 

In a blog post, Facebook blamed the issues on glitches and said they regretted the disruption caused.    

'We have identified a number of unanticipated issues affecting campaigns of both political parties,' the post reads. 

'Some were technical problems. Others were because advertisers did not understand the instructions we provided and when and how to make changes to ad targeting.

'While this impacted a small proportion of the ads about politics and social issues in our system, we regret any disruption in the delivery of these ads.'      

Facebook CEO of Mark Zuckerberg appears on a screen as he speaks remotely during a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill yesterday. In a blog post, Facebook blamed the issue on glitches and said they regretted the disruption caused 

A Facebook spokeswoman declined to answer Reuters questions, but the company's director of product management Rob Leathern said on Twitter: 'We're investigating the issues of some ads being paused incorrectly, and some advertisers having trouble making changes to their campaigns.'

Republican and Democratic digital strategists complained that the glitches were hurting campaigns at a critical moment.

Eric Frenchman, chief marketing officer at Republican digital firm Campaign Solutions, said that several campaigns he was working with were hit by the pauses.

'Votes are being cast every day,' said Mark Jablonowski, managing partner at DSPolitical, a digital firm that works with Democratic causes. 'So anytime that you're not able to communicate with voters in this crucial window is time lost.'

He said that most of the Facebook ads of his roughly two dozen clients had been paused early this morning.

Ryan Morgan, the founder of Democratic digital advertising firm Veracity Media, said he'd heard of problems from several colleagues.

Campaigns rushed to submit any ads they might need for the election period ahead of the moratorium, strategists have told Reuters in recent days.

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign started running pre-prepared ads touting GDP numbers that will not be released until Thursday.

Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it had rejected a pre-prepared Trump campaign ad that told users to 'vote today,' because it did not have 'the proper context or clarity' - a violation of its policies. 

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