Brexit campaign groups top UK political advertising spending
Despite Facebook's October 2018 rules intended to provide greater transparency about political ads, the sources of funding for UK political ads remained obscure in early 2019. when a network of hard-Brexit and people's vote campaigning groups spent more than £1 million on Facebook ads in the lead-up to the crucial Parliamentary vote. For a week in January 2019, the biggest UK political advertiser on the service was Britain's Future, an obscure pro-Brexit group that spent £31,000 in that single week and £88,000 over three months. Most of the group's more than 200 different ads urged users to push their local MP to back Brexit. Although the group was fronted by scriptwriter Tim Dawson, there were no details of who was funding its efforts. Overall, however, the biggest advertisers were the anti-Brexit groups People's Vote (which spent £220,000) and Best for Britain (£150,000), both of which gave only partial information about their funding. In addition, over that same time period the UK government spent nearly £100,000 of public money promoting the Brexit deal backed by Theresa May; the Conservatives spent further tens of thousands pushing it. Meanwhile, the National Theatre was blocked from running ads for David Hare's political Play I'm Not Running after Facebook said it had not included sufficient trransparency details.
Writer: Jim Waterson; Mark Di Stefano
Publication: Guardian; BuzzFeed News