Facebook is considering banning political ads on its website until the November U.S. presidential election, according to financial news site Bloomberg, citing Facebook's internal sources.
A potential ban is still being considered and no decision has been made. The purpose of the ban would be to prevent the spread of misleading election-related content. There is a concern that the ban would also restrict campaigns aimed at encouraging people to go to the polls. In addition, the company is concerned that the ban would limit the ability of candidates to respond quickly to rapid news situations.
If the restriction went through, it would be a big change for Facebook. So far, the social media giant has not bothered to check the facts of political advertisements or campaigns, i.e. to do a so-called fact check. Indeed, the company has received a lot of criticism for being able to spread outright lies and misinformation on social media based on ads so far.
Hundreds of advertisers are currently boycotting Facebook and have withdrawn their ads from the site specifically to protest the site’s policies regarding the spread of false information.
Facebook is an important platform for politicians in the United States. It will probably be even more important in the forthcoming elections, as the general public may have to be restricted due to the coronavirus. According to Bloomberg, Facebook played an important role in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign as customized campaign ads spread to millions of users. Some say this helped Trump win the entire election.
However, Alex Stamos, a former Facebook security director, said Friday that a ban on political advertising could work in Trump's favor.
- Eliminating online political ads would help those with money or the ability to get media attention. Who does this sound like? he tweeted.
Indeed, Democratic politicians were quick to criticize Facebook’s idea of a temporary ban on advertising. Rob Flaherty, director of digital campaigning for presidential candidate Joe Biden, hinted that such a ban would not be enough to prevent the spread of operational information.
Nell Thomas, who is in charge of the party’s technological affairs, was also skeptical.
- We said this to Google seven months ago and now we say it again to Facebook. Banning boring ads is not the right solution to prevent the dissemination of false information on your platforms, he tweeted.
Political advertising is a very small part of Facebook’s business. According to Facebook’s own data, over the past 90 days, Trump and Biden have spent a total of $ 29.2 million on ads. By comparison, Facebook generated more than $ 17 billion in the last quarter.