OAKLAND, California (AP) – Facebook said on Friday that it will mark all “newsworthy” messages from politicians who break the rules, including those of President Donald Trump.
Separately, Facebook’s share fell more than 8%, erasing about $ 50 billion from its market value, after the European company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove announced it would boycott Facebook ads by the end of the year because of the amount of hate speech and divisive rhetoric on its platform. Later in the day, Coca-Cola also announced that it had joined the boycott for at least 30 days.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously declined to take action against Trump messages, suggesting that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud, saying people deserved to hear unfiltered statements from political leaders. Twitter, on the other hand, put a “get the facts” label on them.
Until Friday, Trump’s messages with the same wording as those on Twitter remained unaffected on Facebook, sparking criticism from both Trump’s opponents and current and former Facebook employees. Now Facebook will almost certainly face the President the next time he posts something the company says violates the rules.
“The policies we implement today are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country faces and how they are reflected in our community,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page announcing the changes.
Zuckerberg said the social network is taking additional measures to address election-related disinformation. In particular, the social network will add new labels to all vote messages, leading users to authoritative information from state and local election officials.
Facebook also bans false claims designed to discourage voting, such as stories of federal agents checking legal status on polling stations. The company also said it will increase its enforcement capacity to remove false claims of local polling conditions within 72 hours of the US election.
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Civic Media, said the changes are “a reminder of how powerful Facebook can be in terms of spreading disinformation in the upcoming election.”
He said the voting labels depend on how good Facebook’s artificial intelligence is at identifying messages to tag.
“If every post mentions voting links, people will ignore those links. If they’re targeting messages that say things like “The police check warrants and unpaid traffic tickets at polls” – a classic disinfo tactic for suppressing voters – and clearly flag messages as disinfo, they can be helpful, “he said.
But Zuckerman noted that Facebook is “doing everything it can not to alienate right-wing users, and given how tightly President Trump has joined voter-suppressing misinformation, it seems likely that Facebook will be wrong on the part of non-intrusive and illegible labels, which would minimize the impact of the campaign. “
Earlier in the day, shares of Facebook and Twitter fell sharply after the consumer products maker Unilever announced a new ad boycott on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram towards the end of the year.
The European company said it had taken the step to protest the amount of hate speech online. Unilever said that prior to the November presidential election, the polarized atmosphere in the United States placed responsibility on brands.
In addition to the drop in the number of Facebook shares, Twitter ended the day more than 7% lower.
Based in the Netherlands and Great Britain, Unilever joins a range of other advertisers who are withdrawing from online platforms. Facebook, in particular, has been the target of an escalating move to hold back ad dollars to pressure to do more to prevent racist and violent content from being shared on its platform.
“We have decided that from now until the end of the year, we will not be running brand advertising on social media news feed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US,” said Unilever. “We are currently continuing to advertise on these platforms.” would not add value to people and society. ”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Thursday, Verizon joined others in the Facebook boycott.
Unilever “has enough influence to convince other brand advertisers to follow suit,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. She noted that Unilever has cut spending “for longer, on more platforms (including Twitter) and for more extensive reasons” – notably by addressing “divisive” and hate speech issues.
Sarah Personette, vice president of global customer solutions at Twitter, said the company’s mission is to serve the public conversation and make Twitter a place for people to connect, find and receive authentic and credible information , and can express themselves freely and safely. ‘
She added that Twitter “respects our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”
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