Facebook is launching a widespread effort to spur voter turnout and provide authoritative voting information – just as it doubles its policy, allowing politicians like President Donald Trump to post false information on the same subject.
The social media giant is launching a “Voting Information Center” on Facebook and Instagram with details on registering to vote, the polling station and postal voting. It will get the information from the election officials and the local election authorities.
The information hub, which will feature prominently on Facebook news feeds and on Instagram later this summer, is similar to the coronavirus information center the company launched earlier this year in an effort to take facts and authoritative sources of information about COVID-19 to the next level.
Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, continue to receive criticism for not deleting or tagging messages from Trump for spreading misinformation about postal voting and, according to many, encouraging violence against protesters.
“I know that many people are upset that we have left the post of the President, but our position is that we should express as much as possible unless it poses an immediate risk of specific harm or perils set out in clear policies”, Zuckerberg wrote. earlier this month.
Zuckerberg reaffirmed that position in an USA Today opinion piece on Tuesday.
“Ultimately, I believe the best way to hold politicians to account is to vote, and I believe we should trust voters to make our own judgments,” he wrote. “That is why I think we should keep the platform as open as possible, accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation.”
Facebook’s opinion of free speech may have more to do with not wanting to alienate Trump and his supporters, while keeping business options open, critics suggest.
Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Platform Accountability Project at Harvard Kennedy School, said Facebook “doesn’t want to check off a whole bunch of people who really believe and appreciate the President” are his words.
In addition to the voting hub, Facebook is now also allowing people to turn off ads for political and social issues labeled “paid by,” meaning that a politician or political entity has paid for it. The company announced this option in January, but is now taking effect.
Sarah Schiff, product manager working on ads, warned that Facebook’s systems are “not perfect” and said she encourages users to report “paid by” ads they see if they choose not to see them.
This story corrects the voter information hub launch date to “this summer” and not to Wednesday.
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