Facebook has revealed it will halt political advertisements on the platform in the week preceding the US presidential election.
Yesterday, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced new steps the firm will take as it hopes to reduce the impact of misinformation and fake news.
In a post on the social media platform, Zuckerberg raised concerns about the “challenges people could face when voting” on the 3rd November.
“I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the finals days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims,” he wrote. “So, in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads.”
Advertisers will still be able to continue running ads that were started before the final week of the election, the company confirmed. However, targeting will need to be adjusted for those ads, Zuckerberg noted.
The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned…
In response to election concerns, the Facebook Chief Exec said the firm will remove posts that claim people will contract Covid-19 if they attend voting stations. Posts that hope to discourage voting due to Covid-19 concerns will also be labelled and direct users to sites providing official information.
Zuckerberg also raised concerns that social media platforms could be used to question the legitimacy of the election results.
He said: “We’ll use the Voting Information Center to prepare people for the possibility that it may take a while to get official results. This information will help people understand that there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night.
“We’re partnering with Reuters and the National Election Pool to provide authoritative information about election results.”
President Donald Trump has been highly vocal – and divisive – on social media and has speculated that the upcoming election will be “rigged”.
In May, Twitter added fact-checking labels to a Trump tweet claiming the election will be fraudulent and forged.
Trump tweeted: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
In a follow-up post, the POTUS also said the Governor of California may be involved in “rigging” the election.
There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
Facebook has faced intense criticism in recent years over its handling of political ads and a perceived failure to tackle misinformation on the platform.
In August, a report published by Avaaz underlined the concerning scale of misinformation on the platform. The report suggested that the volume of misleading content poses a “major threat” to public health.
The report revealed that health-related misinformation was viewed more than 3.8 million times on the social media site in the space of a year, with health misinformation circulated on Facebook peaking at 460 million views in April 2020.