Citing risk of ‘civil unrest,’ Facebook won’t accept new political ads in week before election



Facebook said it won’t accept new political or issue ads in the week before Election Day in November.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was “concerned about the challenges people could face when voting.” He added, “I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”

In a paired blog post, Facebook detailed the steps it’s taking to “secure the integrity of the US elections by encouraging voting, connecting people to authoritative information, and reducing the risks of post-election confusion.”

Facebook said it won’t accept new political ads in the week before the election on Nov. 3. However, advertisers will be allowed to continue running ads that are already live. (All of this information will be accessible in the platform’s Ad Library.)

“It’s important that campaigns can run get out the vote campaigns, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims,” wrote Zuckerberg. 

Facebook also said it will attach “authoritative information” about the coronavirus to posts and ads discouraging people from voting because of COVID-19 and will remove any posts spreading related misinformation.

“Given the unique circumstances of this election, it’s especially important that people have accurate information about the many ways to vote safely, and that COVID-19 isn’t used to scare people into not exercising their right to vote,” wrote Zuckerberg.

It aligns with the promise made in June when Zuckerberg announced the company would add a link to “authoritative information” on all Facebook and Instagram posts having to do with voting — linking to Facebook’s new that will sit at the top of both platforms’ feeds.

Facebook will also attach an “informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods,” giving the example of posts that claim that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud. The company is partnering with state election authorities to identify and remove these false claims about polling conditions.

Plus, if any candidate or campaign declares victory before the final results, Facebook says it will add a label to their posts directing people to the official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.

Facebook will also reduce the circulation of harmful content by limiting forwarding on Messenger. And Zuckerberg said Facebook would “ramp up” its efforts to crack down on groups promoting violence.

“We’ve already strengthened our enforcement against militias, conspiracy networks like QAnon, and other groups that could be used to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the elections. We have already removed thousands of these groups and removed even more from being included in our recommendations and search results. We will continue to ramp up enforcement against these groups over the coming weeks.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook would not be rolling out any further measures after this latest batch. “We’ll enforce the policies I outlined above as well as all our existing policies around voter suppression and voting misinformation, but to ensure there are clear and consistent rules, we are not planning to make further changes to our election-related policies between now and the official declaration of the result.”





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