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Facebook announces plan to stop political advertising after November 3rd | Facebook

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Facebook has announced significant changes to its advertising and misinformation policy, stating that it will stop running political ads in the US for an indefinite period after the November 3rd election.

The changes announced on Wednesday are designed to protect “the integrity” of the upcoming elections “by combating foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression,” a blog post said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously defended the controversial decision not to review political advertisements on the platform, but in recent weeks Facebook has started removing political advertisements with dangerous and misleading claims.

In early September, the company promised to stop operating new ones political ads a week before November 3rd, US election day, to prevent last-minute misinformation. Political advertising is now also completely banned after election day “in order to reduce the possibility of confusion or abuse”.

In other words, Facebook will stop allowing new ads for a week before November 3rd, and immediately after the election is over, it will stop all political ads indefinitely. The company did not provide a timetable for whether or when political advertising would return.

The new guidelines represent a major step forward in protecting elections, said Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of dozens of nonprofits and human rights groups working for democracy.

“We are seeing unprecedented attacks on legitimate, reliable and secure voting methods that aim to delegitimize the election,” said Gupta. “These are important steps for Facebook to tackle disinformation and the premature announcement of election results before each vote is counted.”

Others said the change was too small, too late. Senator Elizabeth Warren called the changes “performative”. Internet freedom group Fight for the Future said in a tweet that the change “won’t fix the problem at all”. The group found that Facebook’s recent decision to allow content from private groups to appear in news feeds increased the misinformation and undoed any positive changes that result from an advertising ban.

“Facebook bans political advertising, but at the same time they are optimizing their algorithm to speed up the recruitment of people into groups where they are fed manipulation and misinformation,” said Fight For the Future.

Facebook is again making performative changes to avoid blaming misinformation on its platform.

The problem isn’t the ads themselves. The problem is Facebook’s refusal to regulate its ads, change its broken algorithm, or take responsibility for the power it has accumulated. https://t.co/OkkyM1PtML

– Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 7, 2020

Facebook is trying to avoid another political disaster after it was discovered that Facebook was used by Russian activists to rig the US elections in 2016.

Since then, Facebook has hired thousands of people to deal with election-related security and has worked in more than 200 elections around the world, “learned from everyone” and “made significant strides,” according to the company.

Facebook executives, including Zuckerberg, have reportedly been increasingly alarmed by statements made by Donald Trump suggesting the president would not participate in a peaceful transfer of power. Trump was also accused of promoting violence when he told white racists to “hold back and stand by” and encouraged supporters to “go to the polls” and “watch very closely” during the initial presidential debate.

The company also said it would withdraw calls to participate in polls that use “militarized language” or suggest that the aim is to intimidate voters or election officials.

Zuckerberg previously expressed concern about the challenges posed by the surge in postal ballots this year due to the pandemic.

“I am also concerned that given the division of our nation and the election results, which may take days or even weeks, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country,” he said.

Facebook said it would respond to candidates or parties making early claims to win before the races were announced by major media by adding labels and notifications of the progress of the race.

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