NEW YORK – Ahead of what’s certain to be a contentious U.S. presidential election, Facebook and Instagram said they will let U.S. users turn off political ads in their feeds.
‘For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you’, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in the announcement, which was published Wednesday in U.S.A. Today.
The block feature will roll out to U.S. users in the next few weeks. It will include ads from political action committees (PACs), according to a Facebook new release.
It’s not expected that Facebook, one of the largest advertising platforms in the world, will loss ad revenue from the decision.
Facebook has courted criticism for letting candidates buy ads that contain lies or misleading claims.
For example, the company was forced to pull hundreds of ads from President Donald Trump’s campaign claiming the ‘Face News media’ would attempt to clock the campaign’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial – despite federal regulations that require the TV spot be aired – as well as ads asking people to ‘respond now’ to a survey that looked like the U.S. Census but wasn’t.
Still, Zuckerberg recently said Facebook ‘shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online’. That was in response to Twitter’s decision to place fact-check labels on some of Trump’s tweets.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently launched a campaign telling Facebook to implement rules that prohibit threatening behavior and lied about how to vote. It also proposes a two-week period before the election in which all political advertisements must be fact-checked before they appear on Facebook.
Zuckerberg announced his intention to help register 4 million people to vote through Facebook’s new Voting Information Center, a ‘a place where people can get information about registering to vote, or requesting an absentee or mail – in ballot, depending on the rules in their state’.
Calling voting the ‘single most powerful expression of democracy’, Zuckerberg said Facebook has a ‘responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression – which disproportionately targets people of color – but also to actively support well – informed voter engagement, registration and tournout’.