Facebook can be pretty jarring these days. You’re scrolling through posts about your friend’s great trip to Italy, or the impressive honor a colleague received from her alma mater, or the fine paintings other friends have created, or pictures of kids and dogs and home remodeling projects . . . and then suddenly you’re confronted with overt political ads. They stick out like a sore thumb.
Consider this Facebook ad for former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg that appeared on my news feed recently. He apparently has bought ad time for the Super Bowl game, but he wants to encourage people to go to some other page to see the ad even before game time — and as a result the friends on Facebook have to see this crudely photo-shopped image of a grim Mayor Mike staring into the distance, sleeves rolled up as politico sleeves always are, towering over a football stadium, with his foot on a football. It’s like a gigantic political selfie. (And it might be tone deaf, besides — if you’re a football fan, you certainly don’t think that anyone is bigger than the game itself, and if you’re not a football fan, you probably don’t want anyone to remind you that the Super Bowl will be dominating water cooler conversations come Monday.)
Facebook has always been a political forum of sorts, as people have posted comments and memes about the political events of the day. But we seem to have moved into a new era where it’s not just Facebook friends posting their political views, but also the candidates themselves barging into your news feed. It’s like a group of people standing and talking and minding their own business when an overly caffeinated campaign volunteer butts in and starts pushing fliers into your hand and talking about how awful the opposing candidate is. To me, at least, overt Facebook political ads like Mayor Mike’s Super Bowl Selfie seem awfully intrusive, and not effective for that reason.
As time has passed Facebook has become a lot more commercialized and ad-oriented, and now it’s becoming more politicized, too. I prefer the old dog and kid photo days.