Accuracy in Media

Despite an affiliate accepting advertising money from Michael Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News continued its criticism of Instagram, Instagram meme accounts, and Bloomberg’s advertising strategy.

BuzzFeed News’s article headlined the issue, “Mike Bloomberg’s Sponcon Memelords Won’t Be Subject To Facebook’s Political Ad Regulations.” For reference, “sponcon” refers to sponsored content (i.e. advertising content) and “memelords” refers to Instagram meme accounts.

The headline reflected BuzzFeed News’s issue with Bloomberg’s advertising strategy, which strategy will avoid Facebook’s regulations and thereby could have a significant impact in the 2020 presidential primaries. BuzzFeed News also quoted a Bloomberg critic, who said the campaign reached out to him but he declined to run ads for Bloomberg due to Bloomberg’s track record as a politician. It also aired criticism of one of the Instagram influencers paid by Bloomberg’s campaign, which influencer allegedly stole memes and helped promote the “disastrous Fyre festival.”

Last week, BuzzFeed News criticized billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his campaign’s Instagram influencer advertising campaign. Bloomberg’s campaign paid Instagram meme accounts to favorably portray Bloomberg to millions of their followers on Instagram. However, BuzzFeed News’s affiliate, BuzzFeed, took advertising money from Bloomberg’s campaign to promote a pro-Bloomberg meme on one of its Instagram accounts. Yet this development did not deter BuzzFeed News from laying into Bloomberg’s advertising strategy.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced it would not add an influencer’s posts paid by politicians or their campaigns to its public ad library. The library, according to BuzzFeed News, is “a tool that saves information about advertisements that companies and individuals pay the social network to broadcast” and captures all ads that Facebook monetizes. The influencer’s posts, paid by politicians, will only be added to Facebook’s library if the influencer pays to boost them as advertisements.

In other words, Facebook will not permit direct political ads paid by the politician, but only when the social media influencers pay for the ads.

Although BuzzFeed News acknowledged that its affiliate BuzzFeed took advertising money from Bloomberg’s campaign, it still leaves both BuzzFeed News and BuzzFeed open to criticism over their neutrality and impartiality in the 2020 presidential primaries. But BuzzFeed News chose to criticize Instagram and Instagram’s influencers, instead of addressing these concerns.

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