Facebook announced on Monday that they had expanded their policies pertaining to voter suppression on their social media platform.
Facebook’s Public Policy Manager, Jessica Leinwand, published a statement in which she defined voter suppression as any “action that is designed to deter or prevent people from voting.”
“We already prohibit offers to buy or sell votes as well as misrepresentations about the dates, locations, times and qualifications for casting a ballot. We have been removing this type of content since 2016.”
This announcement came just days after Facebook enacted a purge of more than 800 Facebook pages and profiles that they labeled as being purveyors of misinformation.
The decision to make this change is also only about six weeks after Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was questioned before the Senate about Facebook’s policies, and how they would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes.
This isn’t Facebook’s first crack at fixing what they consider to be a problematic stream of information coursing through their platform.
Leinwand’s statement continued, “Last month, we extended this policy further and are now banning misrepresentations about how to vote, such as claims that you can vote by text message, and statements about whether a vote will be counted.”
Leinwand gave the example of a post that said “If you voted in the primary, your vote in the general election won’t count,” as the type of post that their new policy would prohibit.
Facebook also announced that it has rolled out a special reporting option dedicated specifically to telling the company about voting information that users believe to be incorrect
However, Tessa Lyons, the product manager for Facebook’s News Feed said that they won’t be removing all false information when they come across it, according to Reuters.
“We don’t believe we should remove things from Facebook that are shared by authentic people if they don’t violate those community standards, even if they are false,” Lyons said.
Last Thursday, Facebook announced their decision to remove 559 pages and 251 accounts that they said had “consistently” broken their rules against “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
In their announcement, the social media giant cited the distribution of politically based information as the reason for banning the pages and accounts.
“Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was,” Facebook said in a statement from their Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher and Product Manager, Oscar Rodriguez.
The statement explained, “these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site.”
They also noted the delicate timing of the impending midterm elections. That, combined with the vast majority of the suspended pages and profiles belonging to politically conservative groups and individuals, has led to questions of discrimination.
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