Jul 16, 2020 - Technology

Facebook to label posts about voting from presidential candidates

An illustration of a Facebook tag on a door handle
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook announced Thursday that it will add labels to all posts from presidential and congressional candidates and federally-elected officials that mention voting or ballots, regardless of whether they contain misinformation.

Why it matters: It's the tech giant's response to scrutiny that it doesn't do enough to tackle voter suppression on its platform. Earlier this year, Facebook — unlike Twitter — did not take action against posts from President Trump that included false information about mail-in voting.

  • The labels, rolling out today, aren't a judgment of whether the posts themselves are accurate, but are instead meant to signal to Facebook users that they can get the most accurate information about voting by leading them to an official government website.
  • Posts that specifically reference voting by mail will link to an official government website on absentee voting.

The state of play: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new policy last month after complaints from civil rights groups and Joe Biden's campaign over the tech giant's lack of attention towards voter suppression efforts on its platform, especially by Trump.

  • The social network has since been caught up in a sweeping advertising boycott.
  • Zuckerberg has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to remove newsworthy posts from elected officials, but would rather let users to make up their minds about the content by labeling posts that violate its rules.

The big picture: The effort is part of a larger initiative by Facebook to help register users to vote.

  • The company wants to help 4 million people register to vote in the 2020 election through labels and notifications that push people to a newly-created voter information center that provides accurate voter information.

What's next: Facebook says it plans to extend such voter initiatives to its other apps, Instagram and Messenger, soon.

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