Aug 16, 2022 - Economy

Meta updates political ads policy ahead of midterms

Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Meta on Tuesday said it would no longer permit any edits to political, social or electoral ads that have been previously approved to run within the week leading up to the U.S. midterms.

Why it matters: It's part of a greater set of precautions the company is taking to limit misinformation spreading around the election, especially as it pertains to voting integrity.

  • Ads that present new claims in the final days of an election may be difficult to contest or fact-check in time.

Details: Like last cycle, Meta will restrict all new ads from running within the week running up to election day.

  • Ads that were previously approved and already running will be allowed to continue running during that time, but any edits related to creative, placement, targeting and optimization won’t be permitted.
  • The restriction period will lift the day after the election. At this time, Meta's president, global affairs Nick Clegg told Axios that the company has no plans to extend that deadline, but will consider additional safeguards and restrictions if necessary.
  • In conjunction with its 2020 policies, Meta will continue to reject ads encouraging people not to vote or calling into question the legitimacy of the upcoming election.

Between the lines: The tech giant also said it will take further precautions to prevent misinformation pertaining to voting, in light of false narratives that continue to be spread — mostly by conservative lawmakers — about election fraud.

  • Content with misinformation or misleading claims about dates, locations, times, and methods of voting; who can vote, whether a vote will be counted, qualifications for voting, will be removed.
  • Calls for violence related to voting, voter registration, or the administration or outcome of an election are also not permitted.

Be smart: Historically, Clegg said, the company scaled back its election defenses for midterms following presidential elections. But "the more we looked at it," he said, "the more we felt that the arrangements that we had in place in 2020," were necessary for this year's midterms.

The big picture: Meta has pushed to ensure regulators and the public that it takes voter interference seriously, ever since Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election were uncovered.

  • Clegg said the company has spent around $5 billion globally on safety and security across its entire platform in the past year.
  • Broadly speaking, Meta's election integrity efforts mimic much of its strategy from the 2020 election. The company will continue to invest in security operations to fight interference campaigns and will work with independent fact-checkers to provide accurate information about the election to users.
  • The company will continue to show users reminders directing them to information on how and when to register to vote. The company will also take some steps to improve those efforts by elevating comments on posts from local election officials.
  • It will invest an additional $5 million in fact-checking and media literacy initiatives ahead of the midterms, including efforts to combat Spanish-language misinformation.
  • During the midterms, Meta will show election-related in-Feed notifications in a second language other than English.

What to watch: In response to user feedback about the 2020 election, Meta said it will be careful not to overuse some of the labels it uses to fact-check content that its fact-checking partners finds is misleading or wrong.

Bottom line: "I can't pretend that our crystal ball is any clearer than anybody else's given how unpredictable politics is, but I do like to think that what we're outlining here shows a pretty high and heightened state of vigilance compared to the midterms four years ago," Clegg said.

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