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Comelec expands rules on pol ads run on social media

/ 05:32 AM November 19, 2021

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MANILA, Philippines — Only websites, blogs and social media pages registered by candidates and political parties may run campaign ads for the May 9, 2022, elections, and they must disclose that these are paid ads and identify who paid for them.

These provisions are part of the expanded social media regulation contained in the rules on political ads issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for next year’s elections.

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Every election, the poll body issues rules to implement the Fair Election Act, or Republic Act No. 9006. The latest rules are contained in Comelec Resolution No. 10730 dated Nov. 17 and which was issued on Thursday.

As in past elections, Comelec required candidates and political parties or coalitions to register all their “accounts, websites, blogs and/or other social media pages” with the poll body’s education and information department.

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This time, however, Comelec said these have to be registered within 30 days from Oct. 8, which was the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy.

The poll body reiterated that it would regulate even websites, blogs or social media pages that were not registered by the candidates but have for its primary purpose the endorsement of a candidate, whether or not directly maintained or administered by the candidates or their official campaign representatives.

Microtargeting voters

Additional websites and social media accounts must be registered within five days from their creation.

“Only verified accounts, websites, blogs and/or social media pages may run electoral ads and boost or promote electoral posts,” Comelec warned.

The commission also prohibited for the first time the “microtargeting” of campaign ads.

Comelec defined microtargeting as “a form of targeting online advertisements that uses recent technological developments to analyze a person’s online usage, to preferentially serve advertisements and other information that specifically reflect that individual user’s preferences and personality.”

Through microtargeting, highly specific political messages are directed at small groups of people based on detailed information about them, such as what they buy, watch or respond to on a website.

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“Microtargeting of electoral ads shall not be allowed, provided that electoral ads can be targeted using only the following criteria: geographical location, except radius around a specific location, age and gender; provided further that contextual targeting options may also be used in combination with the above mentioned criteria,” said the Comelec order.

Comelec also warned that the information in online campaign ads should be truthful, not misleading and not casting doubt on the integrity of the electoral process.

The poll body has also required internet and social media companies that operate in the country to report the particulars of the paid political ads placed on them.

E-rallies livestream

Comelec also for the first time said it would livestream for free on its official social media channel the “e-rallies” of national candidates, including party list groups.

An e-rally is a political campaign conducted for an online audience.

The livestreaming of e-rallies will be done every night beginning Feb. 8, 2022, with the slots raffled off to the candidates on Jan. 8.

Every night, three presidential and three vice presidential candidates will be accommodated for 10 minutes each; five senatorial candidates and five party list groups for three minutes each, and three political parties for 10 minutes each.

“During each livestream, the candidate will be allowed to see live comments to his livestream. The candidate may or may not respond to live comments,” Comelec said.

It added that candidates and political parties could hold online campaign rallies and activities without a time limit and such activities would not be covered by the limitations on broadcast advertising.

During online activities, candidates may receive in-platform gifts and game currency, but they are not allowed to give gifts to livestream audiences and cannot run promotions and campaigns that will award in-platform gifts or game currency to the online audience.

The rules will take effect during the official campaign period that starts on Feb. 8, 2022, for national candidates and on March 25, 2022, for local candidates.

The law limits campaign spending to P10 per registered voter for those running for president or vice president; P3 per constituent registered voter for candidates with a political party; P5 per constituent registered voter for candidates without a political party; and P5 per registered voter for political parties and party list groups.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, Comelec, microtargeting, online campaigning, political ads
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