By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Facebook is banning all new political advertisements a week before the general election with the hopes of limiting misinformation on its platform, the company announced Thursday.
“The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned about the challenges people could face when voting,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement Thursday morning. “I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”
“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest,” he said.
Zuckerberg said while he generally believes “the best antidote to bad speech is more speech,” there might not be enough time in the final days before the election to clear up false and misleading information.
All currently approved ads will be allowed to run throughout the election cycle.
Other steps Facebook announced it was taking Thursday include highlighting its Voting Information Center at the top of Facebook and Instagram, which will include video tutorials on how to vote by mail and information on voter registration deadlines for each state.
Facebook said it would also limit the number of messages users can forward on the Messenger app and extend its work on partnering with elections officials to remove misinformation about voting.
“I believe our democracy is strong enough to withstand this challenge and deliver a free and fair election — even if it takes time for every vote to be counted. We’ve voted during global pandemics before. We can do this. But it’s going to take a concerted effort by all of us — political parties and candidates, election authorities, the media and social networks, and ultimately voters as well — to live up to our responsibilities,” Zuckerberg said in his statement. “We all have a part to play in making sure that the democratic process works, and that every voter can make their voice heard where it matters most — at the ballot box.”
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