Facebook will ban US-based political ads indefinitely after the presidential election, attempting to forestall confusion over its results. “While ads are an important way to express voice, we plan to temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral, or political ads in the US after the polls close on November 3rd, to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse,” the company says.
Facebook is responding to widespread concern that social media could muddle election results. The company is also taking steps to stop candidates from prematurely declaring victory. When the polls close, it will add an information box at the top of Facebook and Instagram’s apps, noting whether major media outlets like Reuters have declared a winner. It already labels some election-related posts with a link to its Voting Information Center, but if a candidate falsely claims they’ve won the election, Facebook will add “more specific information” contradicting the claim.
Facebook previously announced that it would freeze political ad sales before the election, and before this blanket post-election ban, it had specifically barred ads that falsely claimed victory. Global affairs head Nick Clegg has also raised the prospect of restricting other content if it could lead to violence. In advance of the election, it’s pledged to remove content from the pro-Trump “militarized social movement” QAnon.
However, the prospect of election night chaos still looms. President Donald Trump has refused to commit to peacefully transferring power if he loses the election. Meanwhile, Democratic rival Joe Biden has criticized Facebook for not fact-checking or removing Trump’s false claims about mail-in voting, calling its moderation policies a “regression.”