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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook says it plans to temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral, or political ads in the U.S. after the polls close on November 3.

Why it matters: The notice comes two weeks after Google informed its advertisers that it would implement a similar rule.

Details: Facebook says the goal of the new policy is to reduce opportunities for public confusion about results or messages that misinform the public about election outcomes.

  • Facebook says advertisers can expect this ban to last for a week, although the timeline is subject to change.
  • It says it will notify advertisers when the new policy is lifted. (For context, Google says it will take at least 7 days for its political ad ban to be lifted after election day, thanks to the likelihood that election results will take longer to tally thanks to pandemic-driven absentee ballots.)

The company says it will also update its policies to ban implicit calls by users to engage in malicious "poll watching" — visiting a polling place to intimidate voters.

  • In the past, says Monika Bickert, Facebook's VP of content policy, Facebook had banned explicit calls for such behavior.
  • It's now banning posts that "use militarized language" or "suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exert control, or display power over election officials or voters."
  • Bickert says her team will be looking at this type of content and making decisions about it. She says Facebook has been looking at this policy update for many months.

The big picture: Facebook has incrementally made updates to its political advertising policies leading up to election day.

  • In September, the company said it would not allow ads that prematurely claim victory or attempt to delegitimize the election.
  • Earlier that month, it said it would place restrictions on new political and issue ads the final week of the campaign,

On Wednesday, Facebook's VP of integrity Guy Rosen explained why the new policy has been introduced so late and after the company said it likely wouldn't be amending any more policies related to the election.

  • "We're still going through planning and understanding of different scenarios drawing on learnings from different elections, and scenario planning continues to be underway. We thought it would be appropriate to introduce new measures as we head into the final stretch and we think about the period after the election itself."

Be smart: Civil rights groups have argued that Facebook has not been quick enough to take action on misinformation and abuse on its platform compared to its rivals.

  • Facebook has pushed back on that, saying that it's "simply untrue."
  • In Wednesday's announcements, Facebook aimed to keep peace with those groups, saying, "We thank the civil rights experts and community members who continue to help us understand trends in this area and we look forward to continuing to work with them."

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Over 1,000 brands ran ads alongside election misinformation

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new report from NewsGuard, a service that uses trained journalists to rate news and information sites, found that from Oct. 1 through Jan. 12, nearly every major brand in America inadvertently ran automated ads on websites that peddled election conspiracies and misinformation.

Why it matters: The chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.

Mike Allen, author of AM
42 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Laurene Powell Jobs' $3.5 billion climate campaign

Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective, is investing $3.5 billion in her new climate-action group, the Waverley Street Foundation — all to be spent in 10 years, as a way to show urgency on the issue.

  • Then the group will sunset.

The big picture: The foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change," an official tells Axios.

R. Kelly found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking

Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Singer R. Kelly on Monday was found guilty of racketeering and eight counts of violating an anti-sex trafficking law, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Sexual misconduct allegations have surrounded R. Kelly's career, including a child sexual abuse image case in 2008 where he was acquitted. Multiple other victims have come forward to speak about the abuse in recent years.

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