“Political ads are not bad things in and of themselves,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor and author of a book studying Facebook’s effects on democracy. “They perform an essential service, in the act of directly representing the candidate’s concerns or positions.”
He added, “When you ban all campaign ads on the most accessible and affordable platform out there, you tilt the balance toward the candidates who can afford radio and television.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, has also said that political advertising on Facebook can be a crucial component for Democratic digital campaign strategies.
Some political ad buyers applauded the lifting of the ads ban.
“The ad ban was something that Facebook did to appease the public for the misinformation that spread across the platform,” said Eileen Pollet, a digital campaign strategist and founder of Ravenna Strategies. “But it really ended up hurting good actors while bad actors had total free rein. And now, especially since the election is over, the ban had really been hurting nonprofits and local organizations.”
Facebook has long sought to thread the needle between forceful moderation of its policies and a lighter touch. For years, Mr. Zuckerberg defended politicians’ right to say what they wanted on Facebook, but that changed last year amid rising alarm over potential violence around the November election.
In January, Facebook banned Mr. Trump from using his account and posting on the platform after he took to social media to delegitimize the election results and incited a violent uprising among his supporters, who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Facebook said Mr. Trump’s suspension was “indefinite.” The decision is now under review by the Facebook Oversight Board, a third-party entity created by the company and composed of journalists, academics and others that adjudicates some of the company’s thorny content policy enforcement decisions. A decision is expected to come within the next few months.