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Facebook is banning vote-suppressing political ads ahead of the US presidential election

Facebook will ban any political advertising that “seeks to delegitimise an election”

Facebook will ban any political advertising that “seeks to delegitimise an election”, including allegations of ‘widespread‘ voter fraud, ahead of the US presidential election. The change comes into effect on Wednesday ahead of what promises to be a highly contentious election battle.

What is Facebook changing?

  • The new rules prohibit any allegations of ‘widespread‘ voter fraud as well as any ad which seeks to "delegitimise any lawful method or process of voting or voting tabulation as illegal, inherently fraudulent or corrupt.”

  • Any attempts to undermine the election process by portraying voting or census participation as ‘useless/meaningless‘ will also be banned.

  • Facebook‘s crackdown comes amid an increasingly acrimonious election between president Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The former has challenged the reliability of mail-in ballots and refused to confirm whether he will hand over the reins of power, should Biden win in November.

  • The toughened stance will also apply to photo and video-sharing app Instagram.

Why it’s important

  • Facebook has been attacked on all sides for a failure to fact-check political advertisements and for serving as a breeding ground for misinformation.

  • Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg previously drew a line in the sand by stating the social media platform would not fact-check political ads.

  • Escalating rhetoric saw Trump allege that the upcoming poll would ‘evidence fraud like you‘ve never seen‘, during the televised presidential debate with Biden.

  • Faced with tight polls Trump has resorted to discrediting the election process, warning that the 3 November vote will be ‘rigged‘ during Tuesday‘s debate.

  • Trump has focused on the use of mail-in ballots to justify his claims, extrapolating from several isolated incidents involving the process.

  • Facebook also removed Trump campaign advertisements suggesting that immigrants were a source of coronavirus infections, under hate speech rules.

  • Facebook has already vowed to ban ads entirely in the final week of campaigning.

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