December 2, 2019 / 4:11 PM / 8 days ago

UK Conservatives ramp up Facebook election ads

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s governing Conservative Party has ramped up its campaigning efforts on social media platform Facebook with a surge of ads highlighting policy areas to younger voters.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson boards a security boat in the Port of Southampton, Britain December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have raised record campaign funds before the Dec. 12 election, but until this point have spent comparatively little on Facebook advertising.

A Facebook report of advertisements run in the seven days to Nov. 30 showed just 201 Conservative adverts were in the platform’s Ad Library, with the party spending thousands of pounds less than the Liberal Democrats, Labour or Brexit Party in that time.

However, on Monday there were 910 Conservative ads listed as having been “active” over the last day, with most seen mainly by voters in the 25-34 age bracket.

The party had spent 37,653 pounds ($48,310) on Facebook ads in the week up to Nov. 30, but details of how much it spent since Saturday were not immediately available.

The adverts focus on ending uncertainty around Brexit, investment in the health service and ads attacking the spending plans of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The 230 active ads run by Labour over the last week focussed on the party’s plans for a green “industrial revolution” and its tax proposals.

Johnson and minister Michael Gove headed up the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum of 2016, and the group’s campaign director Dominic Cummings - who has been a key Johnson adviser during his premiership - has spoken of the major role a late surge in online advertising played in that campaign.

Online political adverts currently do not require labelling to say who has paid for them, leading to criticism from Britain’s Electoral Commission that the rules are not fit for purpose.

Vote Leave was fined by the regulator for breaking spending limits during the campaign, and the Canadian data firm it worked with on Facebook adverts also broke privacy laws, the report of an official probe into the matter found last week.

($1 = 0.7794 pounds)

Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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