Political position in the spotlight, Facebook announces the stages of the American elections

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Mark Zuckerberg said he believed that “the best antidote to bad speech is more speech”. (To file)

New Delhi:

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday the social network would stop accepting new political ads in the week leading up to the November US presidential election, fearing its loose rules would again be exploited to interfere with the vote. as in 2016. The announcement comes amid an extensive examination of Facebook’s influence on politics, including in countries like India, where the social media giant has been accused of ignoring hate speech by BJP leaders to appease the ruling party.

In a Facebook post announcing the changes, Mr Zuckerberg, chief executive of the world’s largest social network, wrote that he was concerned about the unique challenges voters would face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused an increase in postal voting.

“I am also concerned that with our nation so divided and the election results which may take days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country,” he said. .

Mr Zuckerberg has previously defended his decision to allow free political conversation on Facebook, including through paid ads, which the company exempts from its fact-checking program with external partners.

He said in his post that he continued to believe that “the best antidote to bad speech is more speech,” but acknowledged that in the last days of an election, “there may not be enough time to challenge new claims “.

Facebook will continue to allow campaigns and the like to serve political ads that are already in the system, and allow them to change spend amounts and user targeting, but will block ad content or design adjustments.

The company also said it was creating a label for posts from candidates or campaigns trying to claim victory before election results are official, and expanding the criteria for removing content as voter removal. .

Facebook has been roughed up by critics, including from its own employees, since it allowed several inflammatory messages from President Donald Trump to remain intact earlier this summer, including one that contained misleading claims on the ballots postal vote.

The company has also come under heavy criticism for allegedly favoring ruling parties, such as India’s BJP, with measures such as ignoring inflammatory content to protect its business interests, following reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Time magazine.

Disinformation experts have also sounded the alarm, echoed in threat assessments by Facebook executives, about false allegations and conspiracy theories spreading in the increasingly likely scenario that official results will not be immediately available on election night.

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook “is seeing more and more attempts to undermine the legitimacy of our elections from within our own borders” in addition to campaigns of foreign influence, like the one he and intelligence agencies Americans determined that Russia had led to interfere with the 2016 vote.

To deal with these threats, Facebook will tag all posts seeking to delegitimize the election result, he wrote. The company will also remove messages containing disinformation about COVID-19 and voting, which Zuckerberg says could be used to scare people away from exercising their right to vote.

He said the company did not plan to make any other changes to its electoral policies beyond those listed in its post before the official announcement of the results.

(With contributions from Reuters)


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