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Facebook to scale back 'embeds' for political campaigns

The social network had offered on-site ad support staff to help political campaigns, including Donald Trump's 2016 run.
Image: Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the F8 summit on March 25, 2015 in San Francisco, California.Josh Edelson / AFP - Getty Images file

Facebook said on Thursday it would cut back the on-site support staff that in the past it has provided to political campaigns including President Donald Trump’s in 2016.

Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 reelection effort, has said Facebook effectively embedded staff in the campaign’s offices in San Antonio two years ago, helping with technical advice on how best to reach voters with Facebook’s advertising platform.

Facebook has said it offered similar support to Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and it likewise had helped other advertising customers, such as Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, as well as some commercial advertising clients.

Image: Donald Trump, tech executives
From left, Amazon's chief Jeff Bezos, Larry Page of Alphabet, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg , Vice President elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York on December 14, 2016.Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images file

Facebook said in a statement that it was pulling back that kind of help for political ads beginning with this year’s midterm elections, and would focus on providing free information to elected officials and campaigns through a website,

It also said Facebook employees would still be available to answer questions and provide basic training on how to use the company’s advertising products. Facebook did not rule out the possibility of some in-person meetings in the future but said it planned to keep them to a minimum.

Facebook, the second-largest online ad platform after Google, has shaken up how it handles political ads in response to the company’s discovery that alleged Russian agents bought politically divisive ads in the United States before and after the 2016 election.

Facebook launched a searchable database of political ads this year and began requiring ad buyers to get prior authorization before running ads with political content.

The latest change in Facebook’s plans was first reported by Bloomberg News.