The social network says the move is intended to limit misinformation and abuse of its service, following broad criticism that it has not done enough to stamp out falsehoods on its platform. Facebook hasn’t said how long the ad suspension will last, but in an internal memo to its sales staff that was obtained by the Washington Post, executives told staff to tell advertisers the ban would last a week.
The changes less than a month before Election Day underscore how tech companies are scrambling to address a fast-changing political environment.
Tech companies have been making key changes to rein in disinformation since Russia used their platforms in 2016 to divide and sow discord among Americans. But critics say many of those steps to limit foreign influence haven’t gone far enough to address disinformation emanating from within the United States – often from the megaphone of the president.
On social media, Biden highlighted his best soundbites and offered fact checks of Trump’s repeated false claims. His campaign team also tried to seize on potentially viral moments and was swiftly out with a link to buy a t-shirt with the line of the night, “Will you shut up, man.”
Meanwhile Trump was using powerful Facebook advertising tools to amplify misinformation. He was running dozens of ads last night that implied Biden was wearing an earpiece during the debate – after such false rumors festered on social media and were covered by conservative news outlets.
Facebook declined to comment on the ad, but the company does not fact check ads from politicians. The company’s fact-checking partners did debunk and label similar claims from accounts that did not belong to politicians.
The travesty of a debate further proves campaigns’ digital strategies matter more than ever in 2020.
Clegg didn’t offer specifics on the plans, or what might trigger these “break-glass options.” But he suggested that the company might consider “pretty exceptional measures to significantly restrict the circulation of content on our platform.” He pointed out the company has taken such steps in other countries in the past, including Sri Lanka and Myanmar (where Facebook’s early inaction against hate speech has been credited with inflaming tensions that resulted in genocide).
Separately, another source told the paper that the social network is considering “about 70” scenarios, and that it’s working with “world-class military scenario planners.” Clegg, Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg would be among the executives deciding when to put these plans in motion.
Facebook has been repeatedly criticized for not acting quickly enough to fight disinformation on its platform. The company has been battling a wave of rumors and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, which is expected to