NATIONWIDE — Facebook says that it will ban ads that prematurely announce a winner during the Nov. 3 presidential elections, including any posts from candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden declaring victory before election results have been officially announced.
“Facebook will be rejecting political ads that claim victory before the results of the 2020 election have been declared,” company spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted on Wednesday.
The news comes amid growing calls for tech companies to better police misinformation and hate speech on their platforms. It is also an update to Facebook’s previous policy surrounding the elections, announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in early September.
At the time, the company said it would restrict new political ads in the week before the election and remove posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting. It said it will also attach links with official results to posts by candidates and campaigns that prematurely declare victory.
“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post at the time. “That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”
It’s a change that’s unlikely to sit well with the president. The same day that Facebook announced it would ban premature ads claiming election victory, president Trump renewed his push against Big Tech, which he has denounced as biased against conservative views.
Trump met with a group of Republican attorneys general at the White House on Wednesday to discuss his administration’s new proposal that aims to protect “consumers from social media abuses.”
The Justice Department proposed legislation that asks Congress to roll back long-held legal protections for online platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter, putting down a legislative marker in Trump’s drive against the social media giants. The proposed changes would strip some of the bedrock protections that have generally shielded the companies from legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms.
“At the urging of the Radical Left, these social media platforms have become intolerant of diverse political views and abusive towards their own users,” Trump said at the meeting. “For example, Twitter routinely restricts posts expressing conservative views, even from a president of the United States,” he later continued.
Trump first called for a change to Section 230, part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that says internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks, in May after Twitter slapped a fact-check warning label on one of his tweets.
At the time, the president repeated his unsubstantiated claim that expanding mail-in voting “would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots.”
Critics of the legislation say it would make monitoring and removing fake news nearly impossible for companies.
"These amendments would make it near impossible to remove election interference from foreign states like Russia or China, denigration of America's veterans, fake reviews, and dangerous products — all things we need to be worried about as consumers and as voters during this tense election cycle,” Carl Szabo, vice president at the tech trade association NetChoice, told NPR.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.