Using political ads to attract the attention of voters before the election is a well-established practice. On the one hand, advertisements are a proven method to win voters, yet on the other hand, negative political ads are detrimental to democracy.
These ads manipulate voters for the wrong cause and can also result in the propagation of false news and fake narratives that can create social unrest in the country.
By reviewing all of these parameters and to stop fake news, Google and Facebook have already announced a ban on political ads after the polls close on November 3 for an indefinite period of time to make sure that no candidate can spread fake election results information to the voters.
How severe can the consequences of a false political ads campaign be for the democracy of the country, and why are the social media giants banning them after the elections? Let’s have a look.
How political ads are endangering the democracy of the United States:
Every presidential election has seen a much larger volume of digital political ads than the previous one.
Many of these ads are focused primarily on pronouncing the failures of the opposite candidates, instead of focusing on one’s own accomplishments.
For instance, just 9.1% of the political ads in the 2012 presidential elections were positive, compared to 90.9% negative ads.
Experts believe that this massive number of negative political ads is due to the increasing number of special interest groups that sponsor the campaigns of the politicians to get benefits once they reach the highest offices.
The same was the case in the 2016 presidential elections, where nearly 60% of the ads of Hillary Clinton were attacking Trump, while only 31% of them were positive and the remaining 9% were contrast ads showing both sides of the picture.
Similarly, Trump also had few positive political ads campaigns in the said election. The advent of social media and its access to the youth of the world is also one of the principal reasons why these social media platforms have become the battlegrounds for political campaigns.
With too much fake information coming from all over the world, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to distinguish what to believe and what to reject.
As a matter of fact, political ads are bound to influence the minds of the masses. Whether you view them or not, people around you must view them, as they are pervasive and omnipresent, and denouncing them near the election becomes impossible, especially if you are a netizen.
Once these ads are aired, they become part of the daily household conversation and affect the decision-making ability of the people.
Under the influence of these political ads, people cannot make informed decisions that they would have made otherwise, as these ads mostly show one side of the story. With all of this happening, people become alienated from reality, which endangers the dignity of one of the most crucial parts of democracy, i.e., elections.
Social media giants to ban political ads: Will it be effective?
Running political ads has become a sort of culture all over the world during the election campaign. Google and other social media giants have also been accused of manipulating their search algorithms to favor the candidates of their choices, an allegation which these media outlets deny.
To stop spreading fake news on election day, Google and Facebook have announced that they will ban political ads after the presidential elections for an indefinite period of time.
This decision came as the news circulated that fake news reports can be propagated on social media outlets, which can affect the results of the election and promote social unrest in the country.
Declaring premature victory before the complete results of the elections is an old tactic used by the candidates to pressurize certain institutions.
By announcing the win before the election results are final, candidates and their supporters can try to give the notion that they have won the elections already, and if they lose now, it can be rigging. To add fuel to the fire, Donald Trump has already said that these elections have been rigged against him by Democrats and that he will not accept the results of the elections.
This year’s elections are also important due to the prevailing pandemic when a record-breaking number of people will vote by mail. With mail-in voting, delays in the results are expected and justified.
So, social media outlets have no choice than to ban political ads to make sure that no candidate uses their platform to declare an early win in one of the most anticipated polls in the history of the country.
Political ads and elections: In a nutshell
With all of this happening, all eyes are on the November 3 polls when Americans decide their new president to rule the country for the next four years.
Both the presidential nominees are flooding their resources on their election campaigns. Due to the coronavirus, digital political ads are more prevalent today than ever, which increases the possibility of misguiding people through fake news and negative political ads.
Only time will tell whether this decision to ban political ads after the election will be fruitful or not.
Will these giant companies restrict the accounts of the presidential nominees if they try to spread fake news regarding election results? One thing that is certain is that fake news can also be spread through personal websites of the candidates that will once again threaten the democratic practice of the country.