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Facebook Ad Ban on Premature Election Victory Ads Is Yet Another Hollow Gesture

WASHINGTON - Today, Facebook announced it would reject political ads that claim victory for a political candidate in the 2020 election before the results are finalized. The pledge follows the social media giant’s pattern of making incremental concessions when its existing policies cause controversies and public outcry.  

Statement of Jesse Littlewood, Common Cause Vice President of Campaigns: 

Today’s announcement is just the latest example of Facebook making a token gesture to address a serious threat to our democracy posed by the platform through its refusal to moderate public comment responsibly. It is once again far too little and far too late. 

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Facebook has repeatedly focused on changing rules for advertising when responding to the challenges of voting and elections disinformation. The threat though extends far beyond just advertising – which of course is a vector for disinformation and can be micro-targeted to individuals. But Facebook’s instance on focusing on advertising ignores and obscures the much larger problem of ‘organic’ content – the regular, non-ad posts – that spread disinformation. President Trump’s personal and campaign accounts have repeatedly spread disinformation to massive audiences without any corrective action being taken by Facebook. Just yesterday President Trump’s campaign account posted a video fearing Donald Trump Jr. spreading disinformation and a conspiracy theory Trump’s political opposition will interfere in the election, in order to recruit an election security "army." Facebook so far declined to remove, disable or otherwise stop this disinformation from spreading. With this approach, it opens the door for rampant disinformation to be spread on Facebook despite its disingenuous claims to be reining it in.

Until Facebook takes seriously the problem of voting and elections disinformation coming from organic content – regardless of the source – it is making nothing more than token gestures and the company knows it. It is long past time for Facebook to own up to the social responsibility of making money hand over fist from making itself a sewer of political disinformation. 

To view this statement online, click here.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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