Facebook Inc. is toughening its rules on content related to the US presidential election next month. It will also institute a temporary ban on political ads when the vote ends. Especially, as it prepares that elections may not end with an ultimate winner.
The social media company announced some updates on Wednesday to prepare the possibility that final results will not be immediately known on November 3. The suspension of political ads is identical to a plan that Google has already adopted to prevent candidates and their campaigns from spreading misleading messages to voters. Facebook does not verify political ads.
It will also take a more aggressive stance against messages that appear to threaten or intimidate voters. Facebook already bans content that could cause real-world harm. The company is expanding its policy after President Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., have encouraged supporters to monitor polling places to be on the lookout for wicked activities.
Users will see a notice about elections on the Facebook newsfeed
Facebook said in a blog post that it would also remove calls for people to observe polling sites. Especially when such calls use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exercise control, or display power over voters. That includes calls to join an “army” or go into “battle,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management.
Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, has already said that he does not expect available results on election night because of an increase in mailed cards. The company is bracing for that inevitability. Facebook will place a notice at the top of users’ news feeds to alert them when the polls close. They will specify that votes are still being counted if a candidate tries to claim a victory prematurely. Moreover, Facebook rules also prohibit candidates from declaring victory before official results are counted.
Facebook has long regarded changes to its political advertising policy but has opted for a more nuanced approach. The company will not accept new political announcements in the week before the elections. Furthermore, it will reject statements claiming victory before the official results. Facebook said the ad ban should last at least a week after the end of the elections.
The Menlo Park, California-based company, which has been criticized for moving too slowly to combat electoral misinformation, is stepping up its efforts as the election approaches. On Tuesday, it banned all Facebook groups and pages linked to QAnon’s conspiracy theory.
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