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Change UK and Brexit Party lead spending on Facebook election ads

In the past 30 days the two parties have spent significantly more on targeted advertising than either Labour or the Conservatives.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Chuka Umunna’s Change UK were the two biggest spenders over the period (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Chuka Umunna’s Change UK were the two biggest spenders over the period (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

Change UK and the Brexit Party have spent more on Facebook advertising than any other party in the lead-up to the European elections, new figures show.

Data from the social media network showed Change UK – formerly known as The Independent Group – spent a total of £107,442 on the platform in the 30 days from April 19.

Nigel Farage’s party – currently leading in several polls – spent £95,222 over the same period, which ran until May 18.

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Spending on Facebook advertising (PA Graphics)

The Liberal Democrats were the fourth biggest spenders with £76,102 spent over the period on mostly anti-Brexit ads.

The party was behind Facebook itself, which spent £86,457 on adverts assuring the public that it was taking action on misinformation.

The two biggest political parties both spent significantly less on Facebook adverts during the 30-day period, with Labour in sixth position with £46,516 spent.

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An example of a Change UK advert featuring Anna Soubry.

The Conservatives were the ninth biggest spenders with £23,218, less than the Electoral Commission, European Parliament and environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth.

Change UK’s adverts included a series of messages from its MPs such as Chuka Umunna, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen calling for a “people’s vote” on Brexit.

Many of the Brexit Party adverts specifically targeted people whose MPs have called for another Brexit vote, with a picture of the MP and the words: “Your MP wants a second referendum. Don’t let them get away with it. Vote for The Brexit Party on 23rd May.”

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An example of a Brexit Party Facebook advert targeted at constituents of Labour MP Angela Eagle. (Facebook)

Facebook began releasing data on ad spending on its platform last year, after facing criticism for how it shared personal data with advertisers and political groups, including Cambridge Analytica.

The platform allows advertisers to pay to target people based on information they have shared on the site, including age, gender, location and interests.

Due to the timing of this year’s polls, the period measured also covers the weeks immediately before the local elections.

Since Facebook began publishing the data in October, the three biggest spenders were pages called People’s Vote UK (pro-remain) with £437,121, followed by pro-leave page Britain’s Future (pro-leave), spending £423,835 and Best for Britain (pro-remain), with £326,421.

Facebook only gives information on the person administrating the page, meaning it is unclear who is funding the pages.

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