MENLO PARK, Calif. (UPI) — Facebook said Thursday it will not accept political ads in the final week of the 2020 campaign and take other steps to encourage voting and reduce “post-election confusion.”
Facebook criticism over handling of political ads in 2016 — and the “solution”
Facebook was criticized in 2016 for its hands-off approach to political ads during the presidential campaign. Founder Mark Zuckerberg promised Thursday that the platform will be much more active this time in eliminating misinformation and other posts that could hamper the vote.
Zuckerberg said one of those steps is removing posts that claim voters will contract COVID-19 if they physically show up to a polling place, and will attach a link to definitive information about the coronavirus.
The Facebook CEO also said informational labels will be attached to content that attempts to delegitimize the election outcome or question legitimacy of voting methods — like claiming, for example, that lawful methods will lead to fraud.
Measures to avoid declaring premature victory
The company said it will work with partners, including the National Election Pool, to report official results and discourage any campaign from declaring victory prematurely.
“Today, we’re announcing additional steps we’re taking at Facebook to encourage voting, connect people with authoritative information, and fight misinformation,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post Thursday. “These changes reflect what we’ve learned from our elections work over the past four years and the conversations we’ve had with voting rights experts and our civil rights auditors.
“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 stopped short of following Twitter’s policy, announced last year, which refuses to accept any political ads from any organization.
“I believe our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election — even if it takes time for every vote to be counted,” Zuckerberg added. “We’ve voted during global pandemics before.
“We can do this. But it’s going to take a concerted effort by all of us — political parties and candidates, election authorities, the media and social networks, and ultimately voters as well — to live up to our responsibilities.”
Reporting by Clyde Hughes
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