Update: Facebook and the Wes Cook Band say they’ve entered a dialogue about its ad policies, and both parties have issued statements.
“We’ve spoken to the Wes Cook band to explain we made an error here. We’re grateful for their patience as we work to improve our policies,” Facebook’s statement said.
“Wes Cook Band is very pleased to have entered into a productive dialogue with the Facebook policy and music teams regarding our video, and our personal concerns regarding the national interest of political neutrality in social media,” the band’s statement reads. “We believe this is an excellent example of two sides communicating and finding common ground. In the same way, we sincerely hope the message in our song, ‘I Stand for the Flag,’ will inspire our fellow citizens to pursue productive, open and honest communication, especially involving the challenging topics of the day. If we can open our hearts to our fellow man, together we can create a healthier and more loving society.”
Previous: A Nashville-based country band said Facebook barred them from making a paid advertisement for their new music video on the social network, as it contained “political content” — while the band argued that the song is patriotic, not political.
Facebook has since changed its position on the video, saying the clip would not need to include a “paid for” label as is required for general political ads.
The Wes Cook Band released their video for “I Stand For the Flag” on Monday, and submitted a request to “boost” the post on Facebook as a paid advertisement. “Boosted” posts become more visible and are placed directly in users’ news feeds.
Shortly thereafter, the band reported that Facebook had rejected the request, citing the “political” nature of the video. The video itself remains on Facebook — but the band is not able to pay to promote it.
Facebook’s ad policy includes a ban on ads that “exploits controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes.” The band has argued that their song aims to bring Americans together.
“We believe patriotism isn’t political,” they wrote on Monday.
“We’re all stitched together like the red, white and blue,” frontman Cook sings on the track. “May be a little different, but we’re all the same too.”
“…Don’t care if you’re black or white, or who you love / I stand for the flag, and the flag stands for all of us.”
In a statement sent to the Tennessean, Facebook’s policy communications division elaborated on its decision to now allow the ad.
“We recently announced anyone running ads about political or other major national issues must include a ‘paid for’ label. After looking again, we determined that this ad doesn’t need that label. While this is a new policy, and while we won’t ever be perfect, we think knowing who is behind an ad is important, and we’ll continue to work on improving as we roll it out.”
Instead of paying for their promotion, the band ended up getting free publicity, as their issue with Facebook’s policy became national news. The members traveled to New York City to appear on Thursday’s edition of “Fox and Friends,” where they discussed and performed the song.
As of Thursday, “I Stand For the Flag” had earned 350,000 views on Facebook. Cook thanked their supporters in a video message posted on the platform.
“That’s amazing, that’s all organic, that’s not paid for, so that’s done by y’all,” he said. “So thank you for believing in the message that we’re trying to convey, and helping us spread the message.”
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