Facebook announced some steps it is taking to help secure the integrity of the US elections. According to Facebook, these steps are to encourage voting, connect people to authoritative information, and reduce the risk of post-election confusion.
Mark Zuckerberg made a lengthy post on Facebook about this. Here is a small portion of it:
The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned about the challenges people could face when voting. I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country…
Here’s what Facebook plans to do:
- We won’t accept new political ads in the week before the election.
- We’ll remove posts that claim that people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting, and we’ll attach a link to authoritative information about the coronavirus to posts that might use COVID-19 to discourage voting.
- We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud.
- If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, we’ll add a label to their posts directing people to official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.
Personally, I think Facebook should have started working on that much earlier this year, previous to when the first caucuses were held. Imagine how much misinformation could have been removed – or at least labeled as such – if Facebook took this kind of action right from the start.
CNBC reported that Facebook users will still see political ads during the week of the election. The ban only affects political ads that were submitted after October 27, 2020. Older political ads won’t be removed.
CNBC also points out that the changes will go into effect after millions have already voted. In states that allow mail-in voting and absentee voting people are expected to cast their ballots before election day. The damage from false information on Facebook will have already swayed user’s views.
Another problem is that Facebook users, including political candidates, will still be able to spread false information right up through election day. CNBC says the only posts specifically banned are ones saying that people will catch COVID-19 if they vote in person.