Mark Zuckerberg tells "Axios on HBO" that Facebook is imposing new election rules to deter use of the platform to spread of misinformation and even violence, and to help voters see the results as "legitimate and fair."

Driving the news: The new measures, announced Thursday, include throwing a flag on posts by candidates who claim premature victory, and forbidding new ads within a week of Election Day.

  • "There is, unfortunately, I think, a heightened risk of civil unrest in the period between voting and a result being called," Zuckerberg told Axios' Mike Allen.
  • "I think we need to be doing everything that we can to reduce the chances of violence or civil unrest in the wake of this election."

The big picture: Facebook is under fire from all sides.

  • New York Times opinion columnist Charlie Warzel writes: "Facebook is too big for democracy. ... Its size and power creates instability, the answer to which, according to Facebook, is to give the company additional authority."

Between the lines: President Trump has repeatedly suggested that the heavy use of voting by mail this year, driven by the pandemic, could lead to a "rigged election" — despite the long history of voting by mail in the U.S. without fraud.

Zuckerberg said that since the outcome may not be known on election night, Facebook and the media need to start "preparing the American people that there's nothing illegitimate about this election," even if it takes "additional days or even weeks to make sure that all of the votes are counted."

Among Facebook's "New Steps to Protect the U.S. Elections":

  • "We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud."
  • "If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are in, we’ll add a label to their posts directing people to the official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool."

Our thought bubble, from Axios managing editor Scott Rosenberg: If Trump decides to claim victory on the basis of an incomplete election-night count, adding a neutral-sounding "more information" link to his post will hardly make a difference.

The big picture: Facebook was already under pressure to show that it has learned the lessons of the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg has acknowledged the platform was caught on its "back foot" in fighting the spread of misinformation.

  • Now, experts are worried about the additional danger of voters suspecting fraud — possibly encouraged by social media — if the results aren't called on election night because of the heavier use of mail ballots.

The bottom line: "The country is very charged right now, "Zuckerberg said. "So I think regardless of what we do, there's some chance that this [unrest] happens across the country. I just want to make sure that we do our part to not contribute to it."

The full "Axios on HBO" interview with Mark Zuckerberg will air Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

Go deeper:

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Pelosi: Democrats will "use every arrow in our quiver" to block Trump SCOTUS nominee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Democrats were prepared to do what they could to stall the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice.

The state of play: Asked about the possibility of impeaching President Trump or Attorney General Barr as a way to block a Supreme Court confirmation in a post-election lame-duck session, Pelosi replied, "Well, we have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now."

Sep 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Poll: 62% say next election winner should pick Ginsburg's replacement

People pay their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Washington, D.C. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

A majority of Americans, including many Republicans, want the winner of the November presidential election to nominate the next Supreme Court justice, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Sunday.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said soon after the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death that President Trump's nominee would get a vote on the Senate floor. But since then, two Republicans — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — have said they oppose holding a vote before Election Day.

Louisville police declare state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Louisville police chief declared in a memo obtained by news outlets a "state of emergency" for the department on Monday to prepare for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

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