Facebook, Following Google, To Ban Political Ads After Polls Close

In its latest election-related policy shift, Facebook says it will stop running political ads after the polls close on November 3.

“While ads are an important way to express voice, we plan to temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral or political ads in the US after the polls close on November 3, to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse," Facebook vice president Guy Rosen says in blog post. He says the company will notify advertisers when the ban lifts.

Facebook isn't the first platform to ban post-election ads. Google told advertisers in late September it would block all election-related ads for at least seven days after Election Day.

Facebook also says it will police material aimed at intimidating voters, including “calls for people to engage in poll watching when those calls use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exert control, or display power over election officials or voters.”



Facebook previously said it would ban new political ads in the seven days leading up to the election.

The company's most recent change was met with skepticism by one of the company's most prominent critics -- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).

“Facebook is again making performative changes to try to avoid blame for misinformation on its platform,” she tweeted. “The problem isn't the ads themselves. The problem is Facebook's refusal to regulate its ads, change its broken algorithm, or take responsibility for the power it's amassed.”

Warren isn't the only one to raise questions about Facebook's approach to political ads.

Earlier this week, Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) blasted the company for spreading false information about Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

“The pervasiveness of political misinformation on Facebook -- and the ways in which your company chooses to amplify it -- was on display just this week, when a baseless conspiracy about Vice President Biden was highlighted on Facebook’s own News Tab,” Warner said in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“More broadly, Facebook has repeatedly failed to ensure that its existing policies on political advertising are being enforced,” Warner added.

For example, Warner wrote, Facebook has failed to enforce its policies that prohibit political action committees from lying in ads, according to advocacy group Avaaz.

That organization reported recently that pro-Trump political action committee “America First Action” recently paid Facebook nearly $300,000 to spread 450 untruthful ads about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those ads, which began running in the middle of August, have garnered more than 9.4 million views in four swing states -- Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Warner, who also wrote to Google and Twitter this week, is asking all three companies to implement the proposed Honest Ads Act -- a bill he co-sponsored that would require large web platforms to clearly label political ads.

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