The Liberal Party of Canada used Facebook to try to solicit donations in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada can legally donate to Canadian political parties.
“A limited set of grassroots fundraising ads on Facebook inadvertently ran briefly both inside and outside of Canada, when that wasn’t the intention here,” admitted Braeden Caley, a Liberal party official.
It isn’t clear why the Liberal Party would try to run advertisements to Facebook users in other countries, but Caley said the Liberals are working with Facebook to see what went wrong.
Facebook offers many filters that advertisers can use to target specific types of users, among these include country, region, gender and age.
The party did not comment on who would have allowed their ads to run outside of Canada, but they did confirm that they were taken down after a week running in the US and the UK.
It is significant to note that the governing Liberals have trailed the Conservative Party of Canada in fundraising for years.
Ironically, while the Liberals have been soliciting donations from foreigners, they have also been spearheading a crackdown on possible foreign interference in the upcoming federal election.
The Liberals are asking social media platforms to sign a “Declaration of Electoral Integrity” ahead of the October election.
The declaration demands that platforms like Facebook fight foreign interference in our democracy.
It also requires companies to combat “misinformation” which “undermine[s] free and fair elections and core democratic institutions and aggravate existing societal tensions.”
This phrase may cause more problems than it solves. True North’s Andrew Lawton points out that the document provides no real definitions for the term “misinformation”.
Democratic institutions Minister Karina Gould even publicly suggested shutting down social media platforms which do not sign the declaration, as Twitter has yet to do.
“I think it’s obvious that Twitter is not taking this issue seriously,” she said in an interview, suggesting Twitter is responsible for its users’ actions.
While pressuring social media companies to fight foreign interference in our democracy, this recent fundraising gaffe raises the question of whether the government can hold themselves up to the same standard.