Developed and published by Positech Games--which is a one man company run by Cliff Harris--Democracy 4's ads on Facebook has been banned due to them mistaking Democracy 4's ads as political ads in 2020 American elections. Facebook has recently widened their bans on political ads, and it appears Democracy 4 has been caught up in the ban wave.
Democracy 4 in of itself is seemingly one of the more inoffensive games out there, as it's essentially a spreadsheet political simulator that the player can customize to their own liking. The player can set their policies to align with a leader like Joe Biden, or Donald Trump, or experiement with their own ideas in the U.S., or a variety of other countries.
What Positech Games can't do, apparently, is post ads on Facebook about their own game. Earlier today on Twitter, Cliff Harris posted that he's been banned from "facebook ads for advertising my video game." The entire post is below:
Ive been banned from facebook ads for advertising my video game. Yes. I am serious. Don't worry, I'm sure the election is safe, no tampering now. Those pesky foreign video game devs have been dealt with. Nice work mr zuckerberg. 100% excellent. #democracy4— cliffski (@cliffski) October 8, 2020
This isn't the first time the Democracy series has been banned from Facebook either. Back in 2018, Democracy 3 was banned from Facebook for using this ad, which seems fairly innocuous and not at all like political advertising.
We've reached out to Cliff Harris and Facebook for comment, and Cliff Harris has responded. Here are his comments below:
Facebook try to convey some fantasy that they are doing their best to crack down on election tampering, but either they have a few simple lines of code that bans anything with the word 'democracy' in it, which is farcical, or they are employing people with absolutely zero grasp whatsoever as to what they are doing. Neither of these options fills me with confidence that facebook have their 'top people' on keeping facebook users safe from misinformation.
And I guess to go even further, its really sad because my game is absolutely *not* partisan. Its the absolute opposite. its packed with facts and figures about economics and policies, and lets you experiment to see what the effects of policies would be. Its basically the complete opposite of fake news and partisan bickering, and one of the things people often take from the game is the value of compromise and empathy with other kinds of voters.
For the interested, this is the ad that was banned from Facebook:
And here is the ban message that Cliff Harris received:
Democracy 4 is out now on Steam's Early Access program. Check it out here.
We have also reached out to Facebook for comment, but they have not responded at the time of publishing. If they do, we will update this article with their comment.
What do you think of this news? Do you think Facebook was in the right or wrong about this move? Do you think Facebook should've banned political ads to begin with? Let us know in the comments!