With less than a month before November’s U.S. presidential election, Facebook has announced a series of new policies aimed at preventing intimidation at polling stations and candidates from spreading confusion through the social media behemoth’s platforms.
Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday that it will ban content that uses “militarized language” to call on people to engage in poll watching.
In the post, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Integrity vice president, wrote that this is an update to steps the company has already taken to remove calls for coordinated interference at polling stations, including telling people to bring weapons.
The content affected will be those that “use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exert control or display power over elected officials or voters,” Rosen said.
In a call with reporters, Monika Bickert, head of content policy at Facebook, said this ban includes posts that use terms such as “army” or “battle.”
As an example, Donald Trump, Jr., one of the president’s sons, called in a video posted on Facebook for people to join the “army for Trump’s election security” and to watch on election day and during early voting for attempts by the so-called radical left to steal the vote.
Bickert said that if that video were posted now under the new policy “we would, indeed, be removing it.”
She also told reporters the update was prompted by watching how the language used on Facebook has changed to circumvent their policies but that the change will only affect future content.
“When we apply our policies, we generally apply them going forward,” she said.
Facebook also said it will put in place a temporary ban on all social issue, electoral and political ads in the United States after the polls close on Nov. 3 in order to “reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse.”
“We will notify advertisers when this policy is lifted,” Rosen said.
Also to prevent spreading confusion, Rosen said that after polls close on Nov. 3, they will run a notification at the top of Facebook and Instagram and apply labels to candidates’ posts directing viewers to a voting information center.
Also, if a candidate declares victory in the election before major media call the race, Facebook will add labels that say the vote count is still ongoing and no winner has been determined.
“If the candidate that is declared the winner by major media outlets is contested by another candidate or party, we will show the name of the declared winning candidate with notifications at the top of Facebook and Instagram, as well as label posts from presidential candidates, with the declared winner’s name,” Rosen said.
Rosen said its two goals this election is “protecting the integrity of the election” through fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression and helping Americans register to vote.
Facebook said that so far this year across its platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, it has helped some 2.5 million people register to vote.
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