Facebook wants to play a more active role in the U.S. presidential election in November. All U.S. users will be prominently displayed an area with official information about the election process and regulations. The area will be similar to the one currently used for information on the corona virus.
The goal, according to a Facebook blog post, is to help four million people register to vote – twice as many as in the past two presidential elections. Facebook also gives users the option to keep election ads and political messages distributed as ads completely out of their news feeds.
At the same time, the online network closes an often-criticized loophole in the distinction of election ads. The advertisements are in principle provided with a link, under which one can get information about who has paid for them. Until now, however, this reference disappeared when a user shared the post in his profile. This meant that it was no longer obvious that the original was a paid post. Now the notice will remain even when sharing.
Struggling to find the right way
After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook was heavily criticized for being late in recognizing propaganda activities carried out by Russia during the election campaign and for failing to combat them consistently enough. Founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has now reiterated that robust safeguards against such interference have now been put in place.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Vice President and likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden has addressed Facebook, urging it to use the platform to improve democracy – not as a tool to spread misinformation. Biden also sees Facebook as having a duty to check facts immediately and to treat misinformation from all users equally, including that of politicians. Before the election, the candidate even considers it necessary to check every political advertisement before it is published.
A short blog post appeared on Facebook as a result, which was not attributed to any employee of the company, stating that they will abide by any laws made by democratically elected decision-makers. Two weeks ago, the current president said that social media should not engage in political fact-checking activities. Now the Democratic candidate is demanding the exact opposite. "We will protect political speech even if we disagree on content."