(FiveNation.com)- Facebook announced on Thursday that it will prohibit people from placing new political ads in the week before the presidential election, which is Tuesday, November 3.
The social media platform’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, also said the company will work hard to flag what could be premature claims of victory by any candidate. Zuckerberg’s reasoning is that Facebook wants to play a part in limiting any potential for civil unrest that could be caused by misinformation in what is already a charged political race.
In a statement released Thursday, Zuckerberg said:
“This is election is not going to be business as usual,” referring to the attacks by both candidates on the other, as well as the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country … Our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election.”
Social media companies such as Facebook are on high alert and prepared for a wealth of misinformation to be spread on their platforms. President Donald Trump has consistently warned of a rigged election, and intelligence agencies in the country have warned that foreign groups could also try to interfere.
In fact, Facebook and other social media companies have been notified by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence agencies that they should plan for these potential volatile situations.
Zuckerberg specifically referred to the chance that election results will be delayed this year due to the fact that absentee and mail-in voting is likely to total a significantly larger number than normal.
“It’s important that we prepare for this possibility in advance and understand that there could be a period of intense claims and counterclaims as the final results are counted,” he said in the statement.
Facebook’s decision was criticized by the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign’s deputy national press secretary, Samantha Zager, said in a statement:
“In the last seven days of the most important election in our history, President Trump will be banned from defending himself on the largest platform in America. When millions of voters will be making their decisions, the President will be silenced by the Silicon Valley Mafia.”
While Joe Biden’s campaign didn’t comment on Facebook’s announcement, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Block, said the company still hasn’t addressed its fundamental problems. He explained:
“Democrats will continue to urge these platforms to recognize the great responsibility they have in 2020 to protect voters from dangerous disinformation. That means real, concrete action to combat disinformation that is being organically spread by users on their platforms.”
One of Facebook’s plans is to put a label on any premature or false claims of victory. That label will then refer Facebook users to the site’s voting information center, which will include voting results that are sourced from Reuters on Election Day.