Facebook Inc plans to ban misinformation and ads that discourage voting amongst citizens before the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. The plan was unveiled through Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit on Sunday.
According to COO Sheryl Sandberg in a blog post, the social media giant guarantees the implementation of the new policy before the U.S. elections on November.
A year ago, Facebook made efforts to expand anti-voter suppression policies through banning of posts with intent to misinform the public on anything election related. Any post involving fallacious voting methods, inaccurate information of dates and times, and false details of polling locations are prohibited.
The policy includes banning of intimidation tactics; misrepresentations on the legitimacy of vote-counting.
Facebook’s new policy is still currently being developed as the social-network pioneer seeks advice and inputs from different voting organizations. It is also likely to apply in the U.S. alone when it first gets release and it is non-inclusive of the regulation of organic user-posts.
The company also said that it is working in a consistent proactive manner in removing malicious information regarding the elections. It is also regulating “do not vote” ads to confine and control the spread of misleading information that could possibly influence elections.
In October 2018, during the U.S. midterm elections, Facebook set up a war room for the first time aiming to combat misinformation campaigns. Similarly, the company also set up war rooms in Brazil, India, and Europe ahead of the elections this year.
Misinformation Can Easily Be Spread
Facebook has a history of being used as an anti-election’s propaganda platform.
U.S. intelligence agencies reported an instance when an extensive Russian cyber-influence took place during the 2016 campaign. This operation, allegedly, helped the current administration come into existence. Russia, however, denies the allegations repeatedly.
Facebook Public Policy Director Neil Potts said, “We focused on ads because there is a targeted component in them.”
“We recognize it as a political tactic, which is much more in line with voter suppression.”
Ads suggesting to people to “boycott the election” excessively targeted African American Facebook users, according to Ian Vandewalker, senior council at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Facebook To Prohibit Census Misrepresentations In 2020
Along with the unveiling of the spread of fake voting information, the world’s biggest social media platform also promised to introduce a new policy involving the 2020 U.S. Census. The policy will prohibit misrepresentations of the requirements or methods for the Census.
The company started to conduct the annual Civil Rights Audit in 2018 in attempts to address concerns from communities that are underrepresented and advocacy groups taking advantage of the platform.
Facebook has come under fire for non-regulation of content that spreads within its platform; most of which account for the spread of “fake news”. The company does not make efforts to outright ban posts containing misinformation, but rather warns of downgrading any misleading material in order to reach fewer people.
The previous Russian influence on the U.S. elections is a primary factor for the heavy pressure Facebook underwent. On the bright side, this helped the social media giant to identify which misinformation tactics and strategies are commonly used and how to stop them.
Facebook’s next Civil Rights Audit progress report is believed to be released early next year.