Facebook mulls ban on political ads ahead of US elections

Facebook has been under fire for its policy of exempting politicians’ ads and speech from fact-checking


Reuters July 11, 2020
PHOTO: REUTERS

Facebook is considering imposing a ban on political ads on its social network in the days leading up to the November 3 elections in the United States, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the company’s thinking.

The potential ban is only being discussed and has not been finalised, the report added.

A Facebook spokesman said the company had no comment on the report.

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The social media company has been under fire for its policy of exempting politicians’ ads and speech from fact-checking. Last year, smaller rival Twitter banned political ads, but Facebook has maintained that it does not want to stifle political speech.

Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaigns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month Biden’s campaign published an open letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg calling for the company to fact-check politicians’ ads in the two weeks ahead of the election.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty pointed to the issue of misinformation in unpaid content on the site.

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“Requisite reminder that Facebook’s problems are 80% about unpaid content and so anything they do about paid content is an attempt to distract you,” he tweeted.

Facebook has drawn heat from employees and lawmakers in recent weeks over its decisions not to act on inflammatory posts by the president.

More than 900 advertisers have signed on to an ad boycott on Facebook, organised by civil rights groups to pressure the world’s largest social media network to take concrete steps to block hate speech and misinformation, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody.


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