On October 20, 2018, just 16 days before that year’s midterm elections, Jim Allen, the spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners, tried to boost a Facebook post on the board’s page announcing the opening of early-voting locations in the country’s sixth-largest elections jurisdiction.
Boosting a post effectively turns it into an advertisement, and he soon got notice that it would not be approved. He protested Facebook’s decision through an online support portal. The following morning he was told the company had determined the attempted post would be an ad run by a page that wasn’t authorized to run ads “related to politics,” according to emails reviewed by Mother Jones. Allen was informed that in order to comply with Facebook’s policy on political advertising, his page would first have to register to pay for political ads, which would automatically attach a campaign-style “paid for” identifier to content the board wanted to boost.