Facebook to stop new political ads the week before the election

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MENLO PARK, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Facebook is going to restrict new political ads in the week before the November election, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the platform Thursday.

With just two months left until the U.S. presidential election, Facebook says it is taking more steps to encourage voting, minimize misinformation and reduce the likelihood of post-election “civil unrest.”

The company also said it will remove posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting. It also will attach links to official results to posts from candidates and campaigns declaring premature victories.

“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Zuckerberg said in a post on Thursday. “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.”

With the nation divided, and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there could be an “increased risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said.

Under the new measures, Facebook says it will prohibit politicians and campaigns from running new election ads in the week before the election. However, they can still run existing ads and change how they are targeted.

Posts with obvious misinformation on voting policies and the coronavirus pandemic will also be removed, the company said. Users can only forward articles to a maximum of five others on Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app. The company also will work with Reuters to provide official election results and make the information available both on its platform and with push notifications.

After getting caught off-guard by foreign efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, Facebook, Google, Twitter and others companies put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again. That includes taking down posts, groups and accounts that engage in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and strengthening verification procedures for political ads. Last year, Twitter banned political ads altogether.

Zuckerberg said Facebook had removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in such interference over the last few years.

“Just this week, we took down a network of 13 accounts and two pages that were trying to mislead Americans and amplify division,” he said.

Reporting by Zen Soo from The Associated Press.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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