September 3 – Facebook will ban new political ads from its platform a week ahead of the U.S. national election on November 3. The social network will also remove posts spreading misinformation and attempting to suppress voter turnout.
The company announced its new rules would also affect Instagram as well as its core brand.
Facebook vs. Electoral Misinformation
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his firm’s new election-related advertising policies in a lengthy post.
The executive explained that his company would not accept any new political ads the week before the next U.S. presidential election. However, the platform’s new policy will not affect older advertisements and ends after November 3. Zuckerberg further noted any politician or campaign post claiming victory, before official results are released, will be labeled with links to the National Election Pool and Reuters.
Facebook will also remove content explicitly attempting to suppress voter turnout by spreading misleading data. The company’s co-founder noted the service would be especially vigilant regarding posts linking election involvement and coronavirus infection.
Last month, the firm initiated new measures to clamp down on posts containing false or deceptive information about the pandemic.
The billionaire also wrote that his platform would attach notes to posts challenging the legitimacy of the election or lawful voting methods. Moreover, Facebook and Instagram will highlight “authoritative information” regarding the November contest, including registration deadlines, in their respective main pages.
The brand’s Messenger service will also be changing in response to the election. Later this year, users will only be able to forward one message to a chat group at a time. The firm used the same strategy to significantly reduce the virality of harmful content on its WhatsApp platform.
Why Facebook is Making So Many Changes
In his election post, Zuckerberg detailed the platform’s reasons for enacting so many changes.
The founder wrote the mixture of the coronavirus pandemic and existing political tensions would make the 2020 election different than previous contests. He specified that the health crisis possibly delaying the official announcement of election results might prompt “violence” and “unrest.” The company wants to prevent those outcomes by increasing citizens’ understating of the voting process and eliminating misleading content.
Zuckerberg also implied that Facebook is seeking to redeem itself following the platform’s subversion during the 2016 U.S. election season.
The CEO indicated the service was caught off guard by foreign intervention in that contest. However, the company has significantly increased its security measures since then and now actively works to snuff out harmful content. He also said Facebook’s work with voting and civil rights experts had inspired the firm to promote voter participation.
Zuckerberg stated all Americans, including the leader of the world’s largest social network, have a responsibility to protect the nation’s democratic system.
As one of the technology industry’s most divisive figures, the Facebook leader’s statement and policies will likely be controversial. However, Zuckerberg’s commitment to demonstrating his firm can learn from its mistakes is a positive development.