Facebook expands the prohibition on post-election US political Ads Swamped by disinformation

On Wednesday, Facebook said its post-election ban on political ads will potentially last another month, prompting questions from candidates and groups keen to target voters in January for crucial Georgia races that will determine Senate leadership.

The ban, one of the steps taken by Facebook on its website to fight propaganda and other violations, was intended to last for only a week but could be extended. Google’s Alphabet Inc still seemed to be continuing with its political advertising ban after the election.

when President Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the result, unfounded allegations about the election reverberated on social media, even as state authorities confirmed no major violations and legal analysts warned he had little hope of overturning the win of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

Every few seconds, participants calling for a national recount exchanged false allegations about suspected election irregularities and state vote counting in one Facebook group formed on Sunday, which expanded exponentially to nearly 4,00,000 members by Wednesday.

Google refused to answer questions about the duration of its ad delay, although the firm had floated the idea of extending it through or beyond December, one advertiser said. Previously, a Google spokesperson said the organisation would lift the ban on the basis of considerations such as the time taken to count votes and whether there was civil unrest.

The extensions mean that the top two digital media behemoths, which together dominate more than half the market, do not accept election commercials, including promotions aimed at raising voter registration, ahead of two fiercely competitive US Senate runoff races in Georgia.

Eric Wilson, a Republican web strategist, said he agreed that the fears of the businesses over the election result ads did not require a blanket injunction. This is what a scalpel deserves and they use a rusty axe, “he added.”

In a series of tweets, Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern admitted the anger, but said the world’s largest social network lacks “the short-term technological capacity to allow state or advertiser election advertising.”

The firms failed to say whether they would lift other “break-glass” election policies adopted for unpaid posts, such as the erosion of content by Facebook that their algorithms predict could be disinformation.

Andy Stone, the Facebook spokesperson, said the emergency steps would not be permanent, but the rollback was “not inevitable.”

On two of Trump’s tweets on Tuesday morning, Twitter put a sticker reading “this assertion about electoral fraud is challenged,” but both was retweeted more than 80,000 times by that evening.

Nina Jankowicz, a Wilson Center misinformation fellow, said the ad breaks were important but not adequate to curtail the dissemination of viral lies.

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