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Facebook says it won’t hold back from allowing lies in political ads

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On Thursday, some democratic outside groups welcomed Facebook’s decision not to restrict microtargeting but still felt the policy fell short.

“These changes are mainly used as a cover for the most important changes not being made: ensuring that politicians are not allowed to use Facebook as a tool to lie and manipulate voters,” said Madeline Kriger, who oversees digital ad buying at Priorities USA, a democratic super-PAC.

However, other groups said Facebook was more vigilant than its industry peers when it came to political ads.

“Facebook chose not to restrict ad targeting because it would unnecessarily restrict a valuable tool that campaigns of any size would rely on for fundraising, voter registration, crowd building, and volunteer organization,” said Tara McGowan, executive director of Acronym, a nonprofit group that advocates for voter organizations and progressive causes.

Facebook downplayed the political ads business opportunity, stating that the vast majority of its revenue comes from commercial rather than political ads. However, lawmakers have determined that Facebook ads could be a focus of Mr Trump’s as well as the Democrats’ campaign.

Facebook’s touchless advertising guidelines have already allowed misleading advertising. In October, a Facebook ad from the Trump campaign made false allegations about Mr Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The ad quickly went viral and was viewed by millions. After the Biden campaign asked Facebook to remove the ad, the company declined.

“Our approach is based on Facebook’s fundamental belief in free speech, respect for the democratic process and the belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is arguably the most questioned speech,” said Facebook’s electoral director, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign.

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