Facebook extends ban on political ads after Election Day

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Social media giant Facebook says it will stop running issue and political ads after polls close on Election Day to reduce, in their words, “opportunities for confusion or abuse.” 

The step to safeguard the integrity of the 2020 election comes less than a month before people head to the polls on November 3, CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas reports, and a day after the company banned groups supporting the pro-Trump conspiracy known as QAnon.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King in September that the platform was going to take the company’s role amid the election “seriously.” 

The billionaire has been under increasing pressure to monitor and control political content. At the time of Zuckerberg’s interview in September, Facebook had banned new political ads the week before the election. That ban is now extended to all political ads after polls close as well, with no end date. 

Zuckerberg said he wants to be sure that campaigns do not use the platform to declare victory prematurely, or argue an ongoing vote count means the election is rigged. 

“I think that would be dangerous,” he said on September 3. “I think it would be kind of delegitimizing of the election. And I think it could risk, increasing, you know, people getting into the streets and civil unrest after the elections, which I think would be very problematic.”

Another new policy going forward will see ads using so-called “militarized language,” or other ads that seem designed to intimidate voters of election officials, removed from the site. However, such ads that already exist on the platform will not be taken down.

“They’ve almost built a monster they can’t tame and they’re trying their hardest right now,” said Wired Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson. 

Thompson believes Facebook executives are facing pressure from employees and the media to take action to better control the platform’s political content.

“They are worried our democracy will be destroyed in one way or another, and they don’t want to have a role in that,” he said.

Facebook’s political ad ban extension is coming relatively late — fellow tech giant Alphabet, Inc. announced in September that its subsidiary, Google, would block election-related ads after polls close, also for an indefinite period. Twitter and TikTok have already banned all political ads.

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