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Facebook announces ban on new political ads in last week before US election

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Facebook said on Thursday it would stop accepting new political ads in the week before the US election day on Nov. 3, in a series of moves the company billed as its final plan for reducing risks of misinformation and election interference.

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Facebook, the worlds biggest social network, will continue to allow campaigns and others to run political ads that are already in the system, and will permit them to change spending amounts and user targeting, but will block adjustments to the ads content or design.

The company also said it was creating a label for posts by candidates or campaigns that try to claim victory before the election results are official.

In an interview on CBS News aired on Thursday, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said of the measures: “This will definitely apply to the president once this policy goes into place, and it will apply to everyone equally.”

President Donald Trump is running for a second term, facing Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and there are also congressional and gubernatorial races.

In a Facebook post announcing the changes, Zuckerberg said he was concerned about the unique challenges voters would face this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted a surge in voting by mail.

“Im 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,” he said.

Zuckerberg has previously defended his decision to allow for a freewheeling political conversation on Facebook, including through paid ads, which the company exempts from its fact-checking program with external partners, including Reuters.

A Facebook spokesman told Reuters that political advertisers can resume creating new ads after Election Day.

Twitter Inc last year banned political ads, and Alphabets Google limited the ways election advertisers could micro-target voters.

Facebook has been battered by criticism, including from its own employees, since allowing several inflammatory posts by Trump to remain untouched earlier this summer, including one that contained misleading claims about mail-in ballots.

After the wide-ranging announcement, Facebook placed a new label on a Thursday post by Trump in which it noted “voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year”.

Experts on disinformation have also raised the alarm, echoed in threat assessments by Facebook executives, about false claims and conspiracy theories spreading in the increasingly likely scenario that official results are not immediately available on election night.

Vanita Gupta, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, tweeted that Facebooks moves were “significant improvements and come after much pressure from the civil rights community. But everything – any impact – rests on enforcement. Well remain vigilant.”

The Trump campaign on Thursday slammed the announcement:

“When millions of voters will be making their decisions, the president will be silenced by the Silicon Valley Mafia,” said Samantha Zager, a Trump campaign spokeswoman.

But Democratic digital group Acronym said in a statement that Facebooks move amounted to deciding to “tip the scales of the election to those with the greatest followings on Facebook — and that includes President Trump and the right-wing media that serves him”.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Make no mistake — you can still spread misinformation with political aRead More – Source

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