Popular social media platform Facebook will not accept any new political ads in the week before the November 3 elections Fox News reported. The announcement was made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg posted his decision on Facebook and explained his company’s rationale for its action. “We’re going to block new political and issue ads during the final week of the campaign,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s important that campaigns can run get out the vote campaigns, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims. So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads. Advertisers will be able to continue running ads they started running before the final week and adjust the targeting for those ads, but those ads will already be published transparently in our Ads Library so anyone, including fact-checkers and journalists, can scrutinize them.”
According to the New York Post Facebook will use a combination of artificial intelligence programs and human review to implement the new policy.
Facebook has faced heavy criticism for its lax oversight that led to the platform being a prime weapon for those seeking to sow chaos around elections. Forbes reported that in 2016 Facebook admitted that at least 470 fake pages likely operated out of Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
The Zuckerberg announcement was met with criticism from all sides. A CNN personality, Donnie O’Sullivan tweeted, “Politicians will still be able to pay Facebook millions to run false ads all the way through Election Day as long as they buy the ads before the final week of the campaign.”
Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Samantha Zager said, “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, who will at the same time allow corporate media to run their biased ads to swing voters in key states.”
A joint statement by the chairwomen of the Senate and House Democrats’ fundraising arms said, “Facebook’s last-minute changes will not prevent disinformation from being shared organically and will still allow political campaigns to run ads with lies. At the same time, these changes will undermine efforts to ensure voters, particularly voters of color, who use Facebook as a resource can access accurate information — including when, where and how to cast their ballots.”
Facebook boast 2.7 billion active users around the world. The social media giant’s new policy was announced after it discovered what it said was a concerted effort by Russian actors from the Internet Research Agency to target leftists and Black Lives Matter voters by creating a fictitious left-wing news company. Facebook took action to remove all the accounts associated with this effort. In 2018 a federal grand jury indicted the Internet Research Agency, among other Russian entities, for interference in the 2016 presidential election.