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Business - September 3, 2020

Election: Facebook to restrict political adverts


Social media giant, Facebook said Thursday morning it is taking new steps to avoid playing a role in disrupting the vote and “reducing the risks of post-election confusion,” including prohibiting any new ads on the platform including Instagram, in the week before the U.S. Presidential election.

Other steps that Facebook is taking include:

removing posts that claim people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting, and attaching a link to authoritative information about the coronavirus to posts that might use COVID-19 to discourage voting.

Attaching an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.

If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, adding a label to their posts directing people to the official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.

On the positive side, Facebook also said it will take steps to encourage people to register to vote, including “a national drive later this month to recruit poll workers to do this important work. We’re also providing ad credits to election officials so they can run ads to recruit poll workers where they are most needed.”

The social network also highlighted new “Voting Info Center” icons and links on its Facebook and Instagram apps, and instituted a forwards limiting function on its Messenger messaging service to “slow the spread of viral misinformation.”

“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest,” Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post announcing the new steps this morning.

He emphasized the role Facebook might play in helping to avoid post-election turmoil if, as many expect, a losing candidate and his supporters — and possibly hostile foreign actors — try to cast dispersions about the legitimacy of the official vote.

“Since the pandemic means that many of us will be voting by mail, and since some states may still be counting valid ballots after election day, many experts are predicting that we may not have a final result on election night,” Zuckerberg, noted, adding, “It’s important that we prepare for this possibility in advance and understand that there could be a period of intense claims and counter-claims as the final results are counted. This could be a very heated period, so we’re preparing the following policies to help in the days and weeks after voting ends.”

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