Facebook Will Ban Political Ads After Polls Close, Plans to Delete ‘Militarized’ Calls for Poll-Watching

Facebook Will Ban Political Ads After Polls Close, Plans to Delete ‘Militarized’ Calls for Poll-Watching

10/07/2020

Facebook, trying to further instill confidence that its powerful platform won’t interfere with the 2020 U.S. election, announced an expanded set of policies — including prohibiting ads after polls close Nov. 3.

Among other steps: Facebook said it will also remove calls for people to engage in poll watching “when those calls use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exert control, or display power over election officials or voters,” Guy Rosen, Facebook’s VP of integrity, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

That will specifically ban posts that use words like “army” or “battle,” according to Facebook — wording that Donald Trump’s campaign has used recently in calling for an “army for Trump” to watch polls on Election Day.

“Volunteer to be a Trump Election Poll Watcher. Sign up today!” Trump said in a post on Facebook Monday, linking to the campaign’s armyfortrump.com website. Facebook linked to its Voting Information Center from that post but took no other action.

On the ad front, the social giant will temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral or political ads in the U.S. after the polls close on Nov. 3, “in order to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse,” Rosen wrote. Facebook didn’t say when it would resume running such ads.

The latest policy changes come after Facebook last month said it will not accept new political ads in the week before the Nov. 3 election (although it will allow ads that have already been paid for before then). Facebook is not altering its policy to not fact-checking political ads (or posts by politicians), except in cases where those violate its broader prohibitions against disinformation or other community guidelines.

Acknowledging that election results may not be final for some time, Facebook said it is planning to issue a notification at the top of Facebook and Instagram and apply labels to candidates’ posts directing people to the Voting Information Center for more information about the vote-counting process.

If a candidate is declared the winner by major media outlets — but that is contested by another candidate or party — Facebook will display the name of the declared winning candidate with notifications at the top of Facebook and Instagram, as well as label posts from presidential candidates, with the declared winner’s name and a link to the Voting Information Center.

In addition, as Facebook has said previously, if a candidate or party declares “premature victory” before a race is called by major media outlets, “we will add more specific information in the notifications that counting is still in progress and no winner has been determined,” Rosen said.

Also, Facebook will attach an informational label to content that discusses issues of legitimacy of the election or claims that “lawful methods of voting like mail-in ballots will lead to fraud,” according to Rosen.

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