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Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook said Friday that political candidates, campaigns and groups can use paid branded content across its platforms, a clarification prompted by a move from Michael Bloomberg's campaign to pay top Instagram influencers to post memes on its behalf.

The big picture: Its policy didn't explicitly state that it was OK for candidates to use branded content posts, but after hearing from various campaigns about the issue, Facebook moved to clarify its stance.

  • Branded content is a tricky area to define and regulate because it is more obscure about being an advertisement by design. The Federal Trade Commission released native content guidelines years ago, but their enforcement was difficult.
  • Recently, the FTC has cracked down more on influencers that haven't disclosed paid promotions, but there have been few examples of promotions for political purposes that were evaluated by the FTC or the Federal Election Commission, which also sets rules and boundaries for campaign expenditures.

Be smart: Branded content is different than advertising in that Facebook does not receive any money from branded content — and there are no ways to target branded content posts.

  • However, that ambiguity makes it harder for users sometime to understand what's a paid promotion and what's not.

The state of play: Facebook has agreed that branded content should be allowed to be used by candidates, as long as the candidates are authorized and the creators disclose paid partnerships through branded content tools, according to a spokesperson.

  • Facebook previously prohibited political candidates and campaigns from running branded content by default because it wanted to avoid any risk that such actions could be viewed as accounts giving monetary contributions to campaigns.
  • It's tweaking its approach now — only in the U.S. — because it believes that this is no longer a concern, given that it doesn’t provide payments as a feature of its branded content tools. 

Yes, but: If a campaign were to buy ads to boost its branded content, then it would be subject to Facebook's advertising policies. That paid promotion would then need to be included in Facebook public, searchable political ad library for seven years.

Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.