- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2020

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new policies that will change the nature of content about elections and voting that he will allow to appear on his company’s platforms.

Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook that his company will begin labeling politicians’ speech that violates its policies, launch new efforts to proactively take down false content in the final hours before an election, and prohibit more content from appearing in ads.

Facebook has long publicly resisted efforts to restrict political speech on its platform, but Mr. Zuckerberg signaled a noteworthy policy shift on Friday. If newsworthy speech from a politician violates Facebook policy, the company may choose to keep the content on its platform but it will now tag the content regardless of the speaker.

“To clarify one point: there is no newsworthiness exemption to content that incites violence or suppresses voting,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down. Similarly, there are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today.”

Other policies announced by Mr. Zuckerberg involved Facebook’s intent to create a “Voter Information Center” to share ‘authoritative’ information about when and how to vote, which will appear at the top of Facebook and Instagram applications in coming months.

In the final 72 hours before an election, Mr. Zuckerberg said, Facebook’s “Election Operations Center” will be tasked with responding quickly to remove content containing false claims about elections to better prevent voter suppression.

“Learning from our experience fighting Covid misinformation, we will partner with and rely on state election authorities to help determine the accuracy of information and what is potentially dangerous,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “We know this will be challenging in practice as facts on the ground may be uncertain and we don’t want to remove accurate information about challenges people are experiencing, but we’re building our operation to be able to respond quickly.”

Mr. Zuckerberg also said the company will start banning a “wider category of hateful content in ads,” which will be aimed at protecting immigrants, migrants, and refugees and restricting ads that suggest such people threaten the physical safety, health, or survival of others.

“Overall, the policies we’re implementing today are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they’re showing up across our community,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote. “I’m committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues, because I believe we can make more progress when we hear each other. But I also stand against hate, or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that no matter where it comes from.”

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

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide