The Mike Bloomberg memes we’ve all seen on social media are a laugh for us, but they’re apparently giving Facebook something of a headache. The company revealed today it’s changing its rules on Instagram, and will require users to label these posts as sponsored.
Facebook put out a statement to TechCrunch today on the change, saying: “After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there’s a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms. We’re allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools.”
Essentially the company is changing its Instagram rules on sponsorship in response to these posts. Previously, the company would not allow political campaigns to run ads, branded content or otherwise, on the platform, because its rules would allow the campaign to collect ad revenue. Essentially it wanted to avoid the company using its mechanisms to collect monetary contributions. But if it’s branded content posted by an influencer or meme channel, then it’s not technically an advertisement, in that the transaction is between the content creator and the political entity, with Facebook itself not getting involved. Sponsorships such as these don’t go into Facebook’s Ad Library, which allows you to look up who paid for the ads you see.
So now, if you see any Bloomberg-style meme posts, the channels are required to add a small tag that says “Paid partnership.” Sure, if you look at the memes in question, most of the people who posted them volunteered the sponsorship, but Instagram’s new rules would at least make it more clear. Facebook said it’s requested that all Bloomberg meme posters add the tag to their posts retroactively, though we didn’t see it when we looked up some of the memes you see here. It also added that if the campaign pays to boost the reach of a meme post, then it will fall under the advertisement rules it’s now skirting.
Regardless, we may not be seeing the meme campaign for much longer. If the reactions cataloged by Vox are anything to go by, potential voters aren’t responding well to the sponcon, calling out both Bloomberg’s campaign organizers and the meme channels for participating. Honestly, I’m more offended by how hard these memes made me cringe than anything else.