Facebook has announced that it will place greater restrictions on advertisements for social and political issues ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
The company announced the new restrictions on its corporate blog earlier this week, which prohibit the following content:
- Ads discouraging participation in the voting process.
- Ads seeking to delegitimize lawful voting practices as fraudulent, illegal, or corrupt.
- Ads claiming widespread voter fraud.
- Ads prematurely claiming victory for political candidates.
- Ads announcing changes to voting dates or mechanisms not permitted by federal law.
- Ads with false or conflicted claims about health risks associated with in-person voting.
Facebook also announced a moratorium on new ad campaigns promoting social issues, elections, political candidates or politics between October 27 and November 3, 2020. Existing campaigns created prior to October 27 will still be allowed to run, but they will face content and placement restrictions, including a ban on editing or uploading videos, images, making adjustments to image captions, and the removal of the “Paid for by” disclaimer.
Facebook came under heavy scrutiny and criticism both as a company and as a platform during the 2016 U.S. elections, where widespread activity by Russian “troll farms” and misleading or false claims about candidates were thought to have influenced voter behavior. The company has since attempted to place greater controls on political content and advertising, including its 2018 “war room” initiative to monitor and block election-related misinformation by foreign entities.
Despite these efforts, the company has remained at the center of several controversies relating to political content and online activity linked to various hate groups, such as the Proud Boys and American Guard, as well as misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.