Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that the social media conglomerate will not accept new political ads in the week before the 2020 election (November). Indeed, the company has said that it will remove posts that claim people will get COVID-19 if they vote in person while labelling other posts as misinformation. The purpose of bringing in the week-long deadline is to prevent candidates from releasing fearmongering advertisements that journalists and media agencies are unable to fact check such claims promptly.
Having said this, there are several concerning loopholes with Facebook’s recent promise to enhance the credibility of the election. Firstly, many states already accept early mail-in voting, meaning people could still be influenced or swayed by the posts before their advertisement policy takes effect. Likewise, the social media entity has admitted that any advertisements purchased before the deadline will still be able to run on the platform until election day.
What about after the election?
Zuckerberg also confirmed that Facebook would begin applying “contextual labels” to posts by candidates or campaigns that claim victory before official results have been released. These standards will also be applied to posts that seek to delegitimize the election results. However, it is still unclear whether this will extend to political advertisements.
But can politicians still lie?
The glaringly obvious flaw with Facebook’s new policy is the fact that candidates could technically still lie in targeted ads since the contextual label won’t kick in until election day. This means that up until election day, all candidates can continue to run false advertisements without serious repercussions.
In many respects, it seems that Facebook’s stance hasn’t demonstrably changed at all and that US voters are in for another election cycle filled with misleading statements from both sides of the political aisle.