Bedford’s mayoral candidates spent thousands on Facebook advertising

Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson. PNL-151216-140348001
Bedford Borough Mayor Dave Hodgson. PNL-151216-140348001

More than £2,300 was spent on Facebook and Instagram advertising by candidates during this year’s Bedford mayoral election, the Times & Citizen can reveal.

According to analysis on data held by Facebook Inc, almost half of that cash - £1,050 - was spent by eventual winner Lib Dem Dave Hodgson.

Labour’s Jenni Jackson was the next biggest spender with £718.

Both of these candidates’ spending was from either the local or national party.

And Conservative candidate Gianni Carofano was registered as spending £535 plus an unspecified figure of under £100 was paid by a Samuel Richard Ancliff.

No money was recorded as being spent by Green candidate Adrian Spurrell or Adrian Haynes from UKIP.

Cllr Gianni Carofano

Cllr Gianni Carofano

The figures cover the period between October 2018 and September 7.

Over that time hundreds of individual MPs, elected officials and local authorities placed nearly half a million pounds’ worth of promotions on Facebook and Instagram, both of which are owned by Facebook Inc.

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media giant last year began publishing details of who places - and pays for - adverts promoting political or social issues.

Spending on these ads, often targeted to specific groups, has totalled more than £6.4million since last October.

And while much of the attention has focused on the big parties and pressure groups on either side of the Brexit divide, the data also reveals the thousands of adverts placed at a local level, often seeking to influence constituents on what can appear to be seemingly mundane neighbourhood issues.

Under new rules Facebook introduced in October 2018, anyone placing a political advert must declare who paid for it.