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Facebook Tightens Political Ad Rules

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Weeks before the US elections, Facebook tightens political ad rules. The social media giant formed teams to manage election-related posts.  They do so by deploying internal tools designed for “at-risk” countries. Apart from the United States, countries include Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

RELATED: Facebook Ready To Make A Splash In The Communication Arena

Facebook’s emergency measures include controlling viral content and inflammatory posts. Executives said that only under extreme situations will they deploy emergency tools. Conditions for deployment include the threat of election-related violence.

Adjusting the Rules

Facebook’s playbook includes adjusting the ways posts get spread. The company will slow down posts across the board once they start going viral. The company will also tweak the news feed, which will control what types of content users see. At the same time, it will lower thresholds for content deemed “dangerous.”

Once executed, Facebook hopes to shield users from sensationalized posts. It also hopes to limit any opportunities to incite violence or spread misinformation.  Spokesman Andy Stone said they “spent years building for safer, more secure elections. We’ve applied lessons from previous elections, hired experts, and built new teams with experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios.”

Safety or Suppression?

The measures do not come without risks. Healthy discourse can get swept alongside suspected inflammatory content. This is what makes people uneasy. Both Republicans and Democrats are both critical of the company’s policies. Any further efforts to regulate content are often seen as meddling.

Republicans, in particular, felt that the social media app isn’t level. Senior GOP members including President Donal Trump criticized the social site for bias. They complained that Facebook suppressed the New York Post story on Hunter Biden. Joe Biden’s son allegedly used his position to introduce a Ukrainian executive to his dad. 

Facebook denied acting biased. They said they applied the rules that prevent election interference. As they deemed the NY Post’s evidence dubious, they restricted the spread of the story. Twitter also blocked the story. 

Despite the Biden issue, Democrats continue to complain about Facebook. They said the company isn’t doing enough to prevent misinformation on their site.  They also accuse the company of becoming too deferential to the Republican right.

Regular Algorithm Updates

Facebook makes periodic changes to its algorithms to improve its services. They often make changes to increase user engagement and sanction harmful activities. But, Facebook carries out these changes without informing the public beforehand.

Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed their action plans. “We need to be doing everything that we can to reduce the chances of violence or civil unrest in the wake of this election,” he said. At a conference call last week, a source said that Facebook is limiting speech more than it liked. The pandemic and the coming election are the reasons for this. Zuckerberg said a clear-cut victory for either candidate “could be helpful.” A decisive win in the polls can reduce the risk of unrest.

Facebook communications head Nick Clegg said they are preparing contingencies. They have “break glass tools” ready for use in case of a crisis. Clegg refused to provide details on these tools. He said, “it will no doubt elicit a greater sense of anxiety…”

How Do You Regulate Speech?

Over the years, the company continues to take action to prevent misinformation. The UN scored Facebook for its inaction on hate speech and calls for violence in other countries.  In one incident, Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims became the target for hate groups.

Chloe Poynton, a Facebook human-rights consultant, noted Facebook’s inaction. By doing nothing, the company helped escalate the 2018 atrocities in Sri Lanka. By not doing anything, hate speeches and false rumors against Muslims became widespread.

Which Ones are Safe?

For the 2018 US midterm polls, the company deployed tools that controlled content. Facebook also disabled the recommend option for its groups to prevent viral spreads.

The question remains: who decides which content is inflammatory and which ones are safe? How can we be sure that Facebook will act impartial and not take action according to its leanings? Unless the company makes that very clear, they won’t run out of critics who think they have their own agenda.

Watch this as CBS’ “Good Morning” reports on Facebook initiatives to combat 2020 election misinformation, limit political ads:

Do you support the idea that Facebook and other social media apps should monitor messages in their apps or sites and intervene in extreme cases?

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Do you post your opinions and ideas on social sites like Facebook? Do you believe that anything you say is covered by the First Amendment? Or do you think that certain restraint is necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation? Let us know what you think of Facebook actively policing its site.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  • Avatar larry says:

    face book is following the communist manifesto [ BAD ]

  • Avatar Harvey Smith says:

    The government should shut down Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. social media is NOT freedom of speech.
    If you want to communicate with someone, Use the telephone. These “social media” sites are nothing but liberals pushing their agenda. Socialism… They want to destroy democracy.

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    FB & it’s owner MZ appear to be the SCUM of the EARTH! Wouldn’t trust him, them, their ilk or their motives as far as I could projectile vomit! There is NO depth too low for them to sink! Failure to use the RICO statutes against them (& their ilk!) will destroy our way of life; sooner, not later! They seem to have a death-grip on the tiny little brains of the Young & the Stupid & they “will bury (US)! Time & history are on (their) side!” Nikita Kruschev! This is entirely TOOO MUCH POWER in the ABSOLUTELY WRONG HANDS! Even if they were “the right hands”, that would always be a temporary situation at it’s best, but an intolerably EVIL situation FAR BEFORE IT EVER REACHED IT’S WORST! WE ABSOLUTELY MUST PULL THEIR PLUG NOW! WHILE WE STILL CAN!

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    facebook should be shut down along with google , amazon, tweeter, pintrest and any other social media –

  • Avatar casey says:

    Do you post your opinions and ideas on social sites like Facebook? Do you believe that anything you say is covered by the First Amendment? Or do you think that certain restraint is necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation? Let us know what you think of Facebook actively policing its site. I post sometimes. I believe what I say SHOULD be covered by the first ammendment. I believe facebook does not always honor the first ammendment. I see a bias towards people who have simillar political leanings to the admin or “censors”. Those of other views tend to be “censored” (read Banned or suspended) more often. If there is no free give and take, how can one know if there is misinformation? I think eliminating coarse language and truly threatening posts isn’t bad but suspending accounts because people disagree with FB politically is totally wrong. I also have seen people suspended for what I consider silly reasons, myself included, while others can wish death, disease and other horrors, namecall and generally be rude about other people. There is not a fair and open policy about what is allowed and not allowed!

  • Avatar Paula S Davis says:

    I am currently in a 30 day ban for posting a photo of my car window which I have decorated with chalk paint. The decoration is inspired by a colorful meme I saw on face book . Just say no to Joe and the Hoe. I am also suspended from twitter for agreeing with a fellow tweeter that she should hang her Trump flag in her son’s bedroom after his teacher threw a hit for him wearing his MAGA hat during zoom class. I DO like that all our Trump car parades and events are organized there in groups. I believe this is my 3rd 30 day ban on face book this year.

  • Avatar Kim says:

    I closed my FB account because I am sick of the BS and censoring. I hate their left leaning ways. That is my choice to not give them my account and/or info potentially bringing them advertising business. That said, I think we need to be careful about what we say business owners are mandated to do. As much as I disagree with what they are doing, your or my business may be the next one to fall under scrutiny for something we believe is right. Be careful what you wish for…

  • Avatar David Senn says:

    The problem goes far beyond FB, Twitter, etc. The “news” media, which we used to trust to keep us informed has become nothing but a shill for Democrats and leftists of all stripes. Having almost all major media controlled by a handful of greedy, corrupt social engineers is a frontal assault on the first amendment. The fact they refuse to cover the Hunter/Joe Biden scandal is all the proof you need. It makes no difference whether they believe it’s all true or not. The point is there can be no denying this is a monster news story under any conditions. If the story were about Trump (or any conservative) they would have news material aplenty for weeks, if not months. They would not have to search for something to talk or write about. The fact they are dead silent about it is solid proof of their bias. They are so arrogant in their power they are not even embarrassed about their transparent lack of ethics or professional pride. America is in a world of hurt if this does not change, and soon.

  • Avatar rivahmitch says:

    Sites like Farcebook, Tweetle and uTube should be required to make a one-time choice to become either a platform (without editorial righte to the posts of their users) or an editor (with editorial rights but subject to the same legal requirements and liabilities (including lawsuits) as other public media. They should NOT be allowed to have it both ways.

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    Very frustrated with Facebook!!!😡 They are definitely for the Democrats and they should be neutral in the matter and stop trying to think for others. Let people have their choice and if users don’t like post then just don’t look at them. It should not matter if you’re on the left or the right it’s your choice not Facebook’s. They erase post for Republicans but leave post for Democrats. 🤔 In the business world you should be neutral, Very unprofessional and immature of Facebook. The problem with today is that people can’t agree to disagree. No respect for one another. Just because one individual has certain beliefs another should not condemn or hate them because of it.

  • Avatar FeliciaZion2305 says:

    What is “misinformation” exactly? Sounds to me like Farcebook aims to do the “thinking” for us.

    A neat quote from George R.R. Martin: “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar. You’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

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