With simply two months left till the US presidential election, Facebook says it’s taking extra steps to encourage voting, minimise misinformation and scale back the chance of post-election “civil unrest.”
The firm stated Thursday it’s going to limit new political advertisements within the week earlier than the election and take away posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting. It additionally will connect hyperlinks to official outcomes to posts from candidates and campaigns declaring untimely victories.
“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in a submit on Thursday. “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 and other social media companies are being scrutinised over how they handle misinformation, given issues with President Donald Trump and other candidates posting false information and Russia’s interference in the 2016 White House elections and ongoing attempts to interfere in US politics.
Facebook has long been criticised for not fact-checking political ads or limiting how they can be targeted at small groups of people.
With the nation divided, and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there could be an “increased risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said.
In July, Trump refused to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming election, as he scoffed at polls that showed him lagging behind rival candidate Joe Biden. That has raised concern over the willingness of Trump and his supporters to abide by election results.
Under the new measures, Facebook says it will prohibit politicians and campaigns from running new election ads in the week before the election. However, they can still run existing ads and change how they are targeted.
Posts with obvious misinformation on voting policies and the coronavirus pandemic will also be removed. Users can only forward articles to a maximum of five others on Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app. The company also will work with Reuters to provide official election results and make the information available both on its platform and with push notifications.
After getting caught off-guard by Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, Facebook, Google, Twitter and others companies put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again. That includes taking down posts, groups and accounts that engage in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” and strengthening verification procedures for political ads. Last year, Twitter banned political ads altogether.
Zuckerberg said Facebook had removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in such interference over the last few years.
“Just this week, we took down a network of 13 accounts and two pages that were trying to mislead Americans and amplify division,” he stated.
But consultants and Facebook’s personal staff say the measures are usually not sufficient to cease the unfold of misinformation, together with from politicians and within the type of edited movies.
Facebook had beforehand drawn criticism for its advertisements coverage that cited freedom of expression as the explanation for letting politicians like Trump submit false details about voting.
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