Facebook to bar new political ads week before US polls

In this 1 May 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote address at F8, Facebook`s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Remarks from Zuckerberg have sparked criticism from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, told Recode`s Kara Swisher in an interview that although he finds Holocaust denial `deeply offensive,` such content should not be banned from Facebook. Photo : AP
In this 1 May 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote address at F8, Facebook`s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Remarks from Zuckerberg have sparked criticism from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, told Recode`s Kara Swisher in an interview that although he finds Holocaust denial `deeply offensive,` such content should not be banned from Facebook. Photo : AP
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that the platform will not accept new political ads in the week before the 3 November US presidential elections.

The social networking giant has announced a slew of other measures to help secure the integrity of the US elections by encouraging voting, connecting people to authoritative information, and reducing the risks of post-election confusion.

Facebook said that it will remove posts that claim that people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting.

A link to authoritative information about coronavirus will be provided to posts that might use COVID-19 to discourage voting, Zuckerberg said.

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Facebook said it will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimise the outcome of the elections or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods.

“Importantly, if any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the results are in, we’ll add a label to their post educating that official results are not yet in and direct people to the official results,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

Social media firms like Twitter and Pinterest have already banned political ads on the platform.

However, until now, Zuckerberg hardly showed any leniency on cutting down on political ads on Facebook and Instagram even if such ads are used for spreading misinformation.

“...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. So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads,” Zuckerberg wrote.

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Facebook faced a lot of scrutiny from lawmakers in the US after it faced allegations that the platform did not take enough measures to check attempts of foreign actors to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections.

“We’ve invested heavily in our security systems and now have some of the most sophisticated teams and systems in the world to prevent these attacks. We’ve removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour over the past couple of years, including ahead of major democratic elections,” Zuckerberg said.

“However, we’re increasingly seeing attempts to undermine the legitimacy of our elections from within our own borders,” he added.

“I believe our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election—even if it takes time for every vote to be counted,” the Facebook CEO said.

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