Facebook Users Can Now Block Political Advertising
The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, announced Tuesday that Facebook users will be able to block political advertisements and the company will partake in registering 4 million voters for the 2020 presidential election.
Zuckerberg announced the change in an op-ed for USA Today, where he elaborated on the company’s strategy for combating election interference.
The announcement arrives at a time when anxieties over voter suppression are high, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The social media network has “a responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression — which disproportionately targets people of color — but to actively support well-informed voter engagement, registration and turnout,” Zuckerberg explained.
Facebook is in the process of creating a Voting Information Center that will provide information on how to vote, voter registration, early voting, and voting by mail.
“We'll also include posts from state election officials and verified local election authorities. We'll show this center at the top of the Facebook News Feed and on Instagram to make sure everyone gets a chance to see it,” Zuckerberg emphasized.
The Facebook CEO further added that this work is much-needed after the results of a Facebook survey showed more than half of American adults believe they need more information on the upcoming elections than previously.
The social media network has undertaken similar efforts in the 2016 election when it registered 2 million voters and in the 2018 midterms when it registered another 2 million. However, this is their biggest effort to date.
While users won’t be able to opt out of the voting center, they will be able to turn off political advertising. The changes are expected on Instagram and Facebook from Wednesday onwards.
Zuckerberg addressed the network’s policies on free speech and election interference. His comments follow the criticism over Facebook’s refusal to take action against inaccurate or hateful information shared by U.S. President Donald Trump and other politicians.
“Everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content. We have rules against speech that will cause imminent physical harm or suppress voting, and no one is exempt from them. But accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say,” Zuckerberg wrote, adding that the best manner of holding politicians accountable is by voting.
The Facebook CEO came under fire over the platform’s role in the Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the network did not catch the Russians in time and agreed that they must protect the vote.
Since then, Facebook has worked on creating one of the most advanced networks that will prevent voting interference. So far, the platform has protected more than 200 elections all over the world, including new attempts at meddling from Iran and Russia.
"The 2020 election is going to be unlike any other. It was already going to be a heated campaign, and that was before the pandemic — and before the killing of George Floyd and so many others forced us yet again to confront the painful reality of systemic racism in America," Zuckerberg concluded.