With results of almost all constituencies of the federal and provincial election on the table, Meta Ad Library shows individual candidates and those representing political parties have spent over $160,000 in political ads since September for the November 20 elections.
The social media giant – Meta, has been working closely with Election Commission Nepal, since the local election of 2022 in May to crack down on misinformation, fake news, and hate speech.
Meta, which tracks ad spending for political purposes across its platforms, releases the information in its ad library. This publicly available webpage lists all the expenditures to boost (promote) the posts across its platform. Meta is the parent company of several social media giants like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
For the November election, representatives from Meta also visited Nepal and trained officials and other stakeholders, including journalists, on how to fight misinformation, hate speech, and election meddling.
Meta began tracking all the political ad spending across its sites on September 7, and in this duration, the spending crossed the $160,000 mark, according to Meta. Parties and candidates spent foreign currency on advertising and boosting over 9,500 posts in Meta’s platform.
Candidates were lured into spending big on social media platforms like Facebook to influence voters due to their extensive reach.
Shree Gurung, an independent candidate who contested from Kathmandu-5 for the House of Representatives, topped the list with $5,968 to promote 28 posts, according to Meta.
Similarly, Dr Suresh Basnet, who contested for the HoR seat from Bhojpur-1, spent $3,029.
Kiran Poudel, CPN-UML candidate from Kathmandu-4, comes in third with spending at $2,819.
According to Meta, over $72,000 has been spent in Bagmati Zone alone, followed by Narayani with over $15,000 and Koshi with $14,000.
After the 2016 US Presidential election, Meta, alongside Google and Twitter, has been blasted for not controlling misinformation and fake news. Since then, following a congressional hearing, Meta has been publicly publishing the electoral advertisement on its platform as part of the Election Integrity Program. The program is global, and works with governments all around the world.
Section 16 of the Election Code of Conduct 2079 requires each candidate to report the election spending to ECN. This year, ECN has said that each candidate will also need to report their social media advertisement spending.