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Facebook Restricts Political Speech Before Election

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

The company said Thursday it will restrict new political ads in the week before the election and 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,” Facebook CEO Mark 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.”

Facebook and other social media companies are being scrutinized over how they handle alleged misinformation.

Facebook has long been criticized for not fact-checking political ads — which are often filled with falsehoods or half-truths regardless of where they appear — or limiting how they can be targeted at small groups of people.

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.

Neither President Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have refused to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming election. Recently Hillary Clinton urged Biden to never concede the election.

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. In further censorship measures, users can only forward articles to a maximum of five others on Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app.

The company also will work with liberal news syndicate Reuters to provide official election results and make the information available both on its platform and with push notifications.


Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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