Facebook upholds BBC complaint over Tory election ad

Written by Matt Honeycombe-Foster on 3 December 2019 in News

Video that incorporated footage of high-profile journalists is taken down

Facebook has deleted a Conservative election advert after the BBC complained that the party used unauthorised footage of some of its most prominent journalists.

The social media giant found that the Tories had infringed the corporation's intellectual property (IP) rights with the video, which featured brief clips of reporters Laura Kuenssberg and Huw Edwards discussing parliamentary wrangling over Brexit.

The move followed a complaint from the BBC, which warned that the footage had been used out of context and "could damage perceptions of our impartiality".

But the Tories - who are also running the adverts on YouTube and Twitter – denied that the video had been edited in a way "that misleads or changes the reporting".

In a statement, Facebook said: “We have removed this content following a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC. Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required."

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The video featured Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor, saying "pointless delay to Brexit", while newsreader Huw Edwards says: "Another Brexit delay". The clip ends by urging voters to "Stop the chaos. Vote Conservative".

The move to delete the video was welcomed by Edwards, who tweeted: "My thoughts on this kind of stunt are unprintable.”

Facebook's latest figures show that the Tories spent more than £421,000 on Facebook ads over the past month, with £35,654 spent in the past week alone.

The party spent £6,000-7,000 on the pulled advert featuring BBC footage, which Facebook figures show made up to 400,000 appearances on users' feeds.

The move by Facebook comes after the Conservatives were sharply criticised by Twitter for rebranding their official press account as 'FactCheckUK' during a televised debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

The party also came under fire from Good Morning Britain show after it edited an interview the programme carried had out with Labour's Sir Keir Starmer to use in one of its social media adverts.


About the author

Matt Honeycombe-Foster is news editor of PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. He tweets as @math_hfoster.


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