Facebook will refuse to run advertisements referring to President Trump or Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden as the winner of November’s election before its actual outcome is known, a spokesman said Wednesday.
“Facebook will be rejecting political ads that claim victory before the results of the 2020 election have been declared,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said on Twitter.
Mr. Stone did not specify if Facebook’s policy will apply to all of the hundreds of elections taking place within the U.S. this fall or only the presidential race primarily between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.
Regardless, federal agencies recently acknowledged it may take a while to accurately count every vote cast before and during Election Day and then certify the results of those myriad races ending Nov. 3.
The increased use of mail-in ballots this year due to the novel coronavirus “could leave officials with incomplete results on election night,” the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned this week.
“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results by disseminating disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy,” the FBI and DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said Tuesday.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this month his company will ban new political ads in the week before Election Day.
More recently, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, told reporters Tuesday the company has several “break-glass options available” in the event that Election Day erupts into chaos or violence.
Separate from banning political ads, Mr. Clegg said Facebook will intervene if one of the candidates uses their social network account to claim an early victory before the real outcome of the race is known.
“We will inform users with a very visible label on top of Donald Trump’s post — if what he’s trying to do is claim premature victory — saying that the election results are not yet finalized,” he told USA Today.