- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2020

Pinterest has issued new rules to ensure “false or misleading” content on its platform does not affect the outcome of an election.

The social media platform’s 2020-focused action comes after its previous guidelines led to its banning pro-life group Live Action from its platform, which coincided with an internal software developer leaking damaging information to Project Veritas about the group’s interaction with political conservatives.

The image-heavy social media platform said this week that it is creating a “civic participation policy” to help combat use of its platform from interfering in elections.

“This policy doesn’t allow false or misleading content on Pinterest that impedes an election’s integrity or an individual’s or group’s civic participation, including registering to vote, voting and being counted in a census,” said Aerica Shimizu Banks, who heads the platform’s federal policy, in a statement. “For instance, we’ll remove false or misleading content about who can participate in the census and what information is collected, and we’ll take down content that misleads people about where, when or how to vote.”

As part of the new civic participation policy, Pinterest is joining with the Census Bureau to verify and remove questionable information, ensure that all of Pinterest’s users are “fully counted,” and to prohibit any misleading ads about the 2020 census.

Pinterest’s previous content removal policy rankled conservative groups, particularly pro-life advocates. Pinterest “permanently suspended” the pro-life advocacy group Live Action in June 2019 for violating its policies on misinformation by sharing its content on Pinterest’s platform.

Live Action circulated a petition to its activists to push Pinterest to restructure its content removal practice, but the new changes are not what the activists wanted.

Pinterest’s changes follow in the mold of Facebook, Google and Twitter, which also are working with the Census Bureau to combat the spread of misinformation.

Twitter is also reportedly rolling out a new tool for users to flag misleading content ahead of next month’s presidential caucuses and primaries. Now, in addition to being able to report content as abusive, harmful, suspicious or spam, users may select that information in a tweet is “misleading about a political election.”

The companies have not released a standard that would be evenly applied across all their platforms.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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