BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Political candidates relying on Facebook advertising are crying foul.
All around the country and right here in South Mississippi, challengers to incumbents say Facebook pulled a fast one them. Ten days before the June 5 primary elections, Facebook announced a new policy and new requirements for political ads.
Two candidates in Mississippi say the action means their social media advertising campaigns have been shut down. Both contend the action hurts their campaigns in the final days leading up to Tuesday's primary election.
E. Brian Rose is challenging incumbent Steven Palazzo in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary. Richard Boyanton is on the GOP ballot against longtime Senator Roger Wicker. Both have limited resources and have relied on affordable advertising rates on Facebook.
"Last week, on May 25 We abruptly had our ads turned off, basically we no longer have the ability to run ads on Facebook until our identity is verified. Unfortunately, it takes 10 to 12 days for that verification to take place and the primary is just a few days away," said Rose.
Thursday, WLOX spoke with a representative from Facebook who said the policy change was sent out to all candidates on April 23, 2018.
Boyanton says the process makes no sense because the new rules mean candidates are unable to comply before the June 5 primary. He is considering taking legal action.
"You have to send in a letter, then they'll send you a code. Sometime, probably the end of June, I'll come back and get some votes that were left on the table. We're looking to take this to a lawsuit," Boyanton said. "I am starting to push to have this election redone... Facebook should pay for the new election."
Boyanton tried to get answers and discovered dealing with the social media giant was futile.
"There is nobody in charge. Nobody knows anything," said Boyanton.
Facebook, under pressure after revelations, investigations and endless news reports about how the Russians used the outlet to meddle in the 2016 presidential election is recalibrating its policies on political activity.
The story is getting national attention.
"I've done interviews with USA Today, CNN, AP News Wire, Verge, the UK Register. There's a lot of media attention because it's affecting the election," said Rose
E. Brian Rose reached out to Facebook and was told there is no direct line to the company's legal department. He also tried to contact the Facebook sales representative that he has been working with for months, and that person is suddenly unavailable.