Facebook Ramps Up November Election Safeguards

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says 'this election is not going to be business as usual.'
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Facebook  (FB) - Get Report said Thursday it will be taking a series of steps to boost voter registration, reduce misinformation and interference with the 2020 presidential elections.

Among other moves, Facebook said it will not accept new political ads in the week before the election, remove posts that claim people will get coronavirus if they vote, and attached "authoritative information" about the coronavirus to posts that might use Covid-19 discourage voting.

"This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "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."

Zuckerberg said that the information at the Voting Information Center, located at the top of Facebook and Instagram, will include video tutorials on such issues as how to vote by mail, and information on deadlines for registering and voting in individual states.

Facebook also will try to reduce the risk of misinformation and harmful content going viral by limiting forwarding on Messenger, Zuckerberg said.  

"We'll use the Voting Information Center to prepare people for the possibility that it may take a while to get official results," he said. "This information will help people understand that there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night."

In addition, Zuckerberg said Facebook will partner with Reuters and the National Election Pool to provide authoritative information about election results. 

Facebook said it will attach an informational label to content that try to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, such as claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud. 

Facebook has been criticized widely about how it handles misinformation around elections and other matters, especially during the 2016 presidential election.

Earlier this week, Facebook said it removed a network of fake accounts and pages created by Russian operatives who had recruited U.S. journalists to write articles critical of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris, in an apparent bid to undermine their support among liberal voters.

Shares of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based tech giant were down 4.96% at $287.51 in trading Thursday.