On Wednesday October 7th, Facebook announced that starting after polls close on November 3rd, the social media platform will discontinue all political advertisements in the United States. This will be enforced for an indefinite amount.
Previously, Facebook had announced that they would not allow new political ads to run seven days prior to the election as well as banning any ads that seek to delegitimize the results of the election. In a recent blog post, the company said: “While ads are an important way to express voice, we plan to temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral, or political ads in the U.S. after the polls close on November 3, to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse.”
The decision comes shortly after President Trump’s evasive comments as to whether or not he would accept a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election. In addition, after conversations with civil rights groups, Facebook has realized they need to do more about ads because Election Day could turn into pure chaos.
As a result, on Wednesday Facebook announced they would be taking preventative measures to keep political candidates from using the platform to manipulate election results and the aftermath. The real question that arises is: is Facebook doing enough to stop misinformation for spreading? Maybe it is, but maybe Facebook is a little too late.
Facebook is seeking to avoid another mishap and spread of misinformation after the 2016 fiasco in which it was found that Russian operatives were manipulating the election process using Facebook. They also declared that they would respond to any candidates or parties making premature claims of victory before being called by major media outlets by adding labels and notifications about the state of the race.
And Facebook isn’t the only company to attempt to limit election manipulation as Twitter announced on October 9th that they would implement new rules to counter manipulation ahead of November 3rd.
Twitter will impose new warnings on politician’s lies, restrict premature declarations of victory, and block calls for polling violence. Company officials said on Friday: “Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November.”
However, is Facebook’s choice to ban all political advertisements after the election a good thing? Some political strategists claim that it actually has the opposite effect. For example, limiting all political ads hurts small campaigns more than big campaigns: ads on the social media platform are a lot less expensive to run than television commercials, which bigger campaigns have the budget for.
While Facebook continues to make an attempt to block any political advertisements for the future, the question of whether or not the company is too late in their actions still remains. However, it is imperative that Facebook takes control of what is published to their site, even if it is a little too late.