Are Political Ads on Social Media OK? Many Say Yes

A new study from the Public Affairs Council finds that even given recent controversy over the use of political ads on social media, nearly half of Americans don’t find their use objectionable.

Twitter has (mostly) banned them. Facebook has faced controversy because it hasn’t.

But despite the chatter around whether political ads are appropriate on social media because of the potential for misinformation, many people still consider the channel appropriate for political groups. According to a new survey from the Public Affairs Council (PAC), which collaborated with Morning Consult on a poll of 2,200 Americans, 44 percent of respondents felt it was OK for political advertising to be shared in the social sphere. The levels went up and down by generation, with 56 percent of Gen Z respondents saying it was acceptable, while only 34 percent of boomers felt the same way.

One factor that could affect how people feel about such ads is the topic—with education, healthcare, and the economy seen as acceptable by nearly half of respondents. Nonetheless, there was a general feeling of distrust for paid political ads, which were far less trusted (19 percent) than social posts shared by friends and family (53 percent) and news outlets (34 percent).

Beyond the top-line stats, the report highlights social media use by generation—with millennials and Gen X using Facebook most, and Gen Z favoring Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. The report also noted that liberal users were more likely to share a political opinion on social media (54 percent) than conservatives (40 percent) and moderates (39 percent).

In a statement, PAC President Doug Pinkham noted that the report showed there was room to keep such advertising around.

“As we approach the 2020 elections, we’ll continue to debate how to share political information,” Pinkham said. “The findings show that there is a place for political advertising in the conversation, especially when it comes to increasing public awareness around specific policies.”

(zakokor/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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