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Article

4 Sep 2020

Author:
Jeremy B. Merrill, ProPublica

Facebook’s political ad ban also threatens ability to spread accurate information on how to vote

Facebook this week said it would bar political ads in the seven days before the presidential election... Included in the ban are ads purchased by election officials — secretaries of state and boards of elections — who use Facebook to inform voters about how voting will work. The move effectively removes a key communication channel just as millions of Americans will begin to navigate a voting process different from any they’ve experienced before... Facebook’s newly announced rules only apply to new ads about “social issues, elections or politics.” Ads placed beforehand can continue running... Without a key way to communicate how polling places are changing, the chances mount that potential voters will miss important information.

Facebook said it is trying to help elections officials, not hinder them. “We’re committed to supporting the important work election administrators do to make voting possible,” Tom Channick, a Facebook spokesperson, said in a statement. He cited new Facebook tools for election administrators, including “Voting Alerts” and a page on Facebook that offers information on how to vote.

... Facebook told ProPublica that it’s sticking to its decision to include election-administration ads in the ban, but has offered to help administrators change their pages to be able to use Voting Alerts and says it’s considering ways to show the alerts more broadly.

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