Facebook is gearing up for the upcoming 2020 US election cycle by introducing new misinformation-combatting tools and limits. That's based on recent reports stemming from an announcement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Not only will the company be limiting advertisements. It will also limit users to some extent. And the new measures will stretch across Messenger and Instagram apps as well as Facebook itself.
The goal, of course, is to stave off a repeat of 2016's election interference via a reduction in the spread of misleading viral content.
For end users, though, the biggest change is going to be to Messenger. The premier messaging platform for the world's largest social network will dramatically reduce forwarding, in particular. The executive says that the goal is to limit viral misinformation spread and harmful content. So users will still be able to share election information. But the number of chats that messages can be forwarded to at one time will be reduced.
That's already been in place for WhatsApp during "sensitive periods" such as elections. Mr. Zuckerberg says the practice is effective on that platform. So it is implementing that for Facebook Messenger for 2020.
What about Facebook and Instagram for the 2020 election?
Now, Facebook has already implemented plenty of measures for the 2020 election cycle. And the newest effort will see voting information posted at the top of Instagram and Facebook apps as well as online. That will include "accurate, verified information and videos about how to vote." But here, the company is taking things further still.
The company will also be removing posts that make claims connecting COVID-19 to voting, along with links to authoritative information on the matters. It will add information labels to content that appears to delegitimize the election's outcome or that derides the legitimacy of states' chosen voting methods. That includes claims that disparage valid and "lawful" voting methods or those that promote voting fraud.
Facebook isn't taking any chances on mail-in voting either, which many states are opting to go with due to COVID-19. In fact, the company will actively point out that the night of the election might not yield results due to counts from those votes still rolling in. And any candidate or campaign that tries to claim victory prior to the final results will be marked out. A link and label will be included in that effort, directing users to official results.
The official results, in-so-far as Facebook is concerned, will come from Reuters and the National Election Pool.
Posts that are geared at voter suppression will similarly be called out and/or removed entirely.
Ads are going to disappear in the week leading up to the election
Facebook's final measure will be to disallow political advertisements in the week leading up to the election. Or at least for new advertisements. Any active campaigns submitted before the cut-off date will still be allowed to run. The company says that the goal is to stop misinformation from interfering with results. And the cut-off will allow fact-checking by dedicated sources and journalists.
Political ads will continue to be marked with detailed information pertaining to the purchasing party.