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Facebook says it’ll ban new political ads week before US elections

With two months left until the US 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 says today 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 says in a post. “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 misinformation, given issues with US President Donald Trump and other candidates posting false information and Russia’s interference in the 2016 White House elections and ongoing attempts to interfere in US politics.

Facebook has long been criticized for not fact-checking political ads 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 says.

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.

— AP

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