“The policies we are implementing today are designed to respond to the reality of the challenges our country faces and the way they manifest in our community,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page announcing the changes.
He said the social network was taking additional steps to combat election-related misinformation. In particular, it will start adding new labels to all voting messages that will direct users to authoritative information from national and local electoral authorities.
Facebook also prohibits false allegations aimed at discouraging voting, such as stories of federal agents checking the legal status of polling stations.
The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false allegations regarding local voting conditions in the 72 hours before the US elections.
Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the changes were “a reminder of the power of Facebook in spreading disinformation in the next election.”
He said the usefulness of voting tags will depend on the quality of Facebook’s artificial intelligence to identify posts that need it.
If they label “every article that mentions voting links, people will start to ignore those links. If targeted at articles that say things like “Police will check unpaid warrants and traffic tickets at polling stations” – a classic tactic of suppressing voter suppression information – and clearly mark messages as desinfo, they could be useful, “he said.
But Zuckerman noted that Facebook “used to strive not to alienate right-wing users, and given the rigor with which President Trump has aligned himself with the misinformation that suppresses voters, it seems Facebook is likely to err on the side of non-intrusive and ignorable labels, which would minimize the impact of the campaign. ”
Earlier today, Facebook and Twitter stocks fell sharply after Unilever, the giant company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry ice cream and Dove soap, said it would stop US advertising on Facebook, Twitter. and Instagram until at least the end of the year.
Unilever said it made the decision to protest the amount of hate speech online. The company said the polarized atmosphere in the United States before the November presidential election compelled brands to act.
Facebook and Twitter shares fell by about seven percent after the announcement of Unilever.
The company, based in the Netherlands and Britain, joins a series of other advertisers withdrawing from online platforms.
Facebook in particular has been the target of an escalation movement aimed at withholding advertising funds to push it to do more to prevent the sharing of racist and violent content on its platform.
“We have decided that as of the end of the year at least, we will not run brand advertising on the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms in the United States on social media,” said Unilever. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. ”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
We will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook, Inc. must take clear and unequivocal steps to prevent its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hatred. & gt; & gt; & gt; https: //t.co/7OpxtcbDGg pic.twitter.com/I989Uk9V3h
Unilever “has enough leverage to persuade other brand advertisers to follow its example,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin.
She noted that Unilever has cut spending “longer, on more platforms (including Twitter) and for wider reasons” – in particular, citing “division” issues as well as hate speech.
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 where people can connect, research and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and without hindrance. ”
She added that Twitter is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”