Facebook will block new political ads in the final week before the U.S. presidential election, the social network announced on Thursday.
The move was announced in a Facebook post by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
“We’re going to block new political and issue ads during the final week of the campaign,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s important that campaigns can run get out the vote campaigns, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims.”
In this Oct. 25, 2019 photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Paley Center in New York City.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
“So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads,” Zuckerberg added. “Advertisers will be able to continue running ads they started running before the final week and adjust the targeting for those ads, but those ads will already be published transparently in our Ads Library so anyone, including fact-checkers and journalists, can scrutinize them.”
The move is part of Facebook’s attempt to clamp down on misinformation ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Facebook, which had 2.7 billion monthly active users at the end of its second quarter, is locked in a long-running battle to stop so-called fake news.
In his post, Zuckerberg explained that Facebook will also be extending its work with election officials to remove misinformation about voting.
“We already committed to partnering with state election authorities to identify and remove false claims about polling conditions in the last 72 hours of the campaign, but given that this election will include large amounts of early voting, we’re extending that period to begin now and continue through the election until we have a clear result,” he wrote.
Zuckerberg also mentioned his concerns “about the challenges people could face when voting.” He expressed worries election results could potentially take days or weeks before they are finalized, leading to “an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”
“This election is not going to be business as usual,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post. “We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. 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.”
The 36-year-old Zuckerberg also noted that he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have donated $300 million “to non-partisan organizations supporting states and local counties in strengthening our voting infrastructure.”
The announcements come just days after Facebook announced that the Russian-based Internet Research Agency was targeting Black Lives Matter and left-leaning voters online, going so far as to create a fake left-wing news outlet complete with fictional editors.
Facebook has now removed the accounts, and the FBI is investigating.
The Internet Research Agency was indicted, along with 13 Russian nationals and two other Russian entities, by a grand jury for influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
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