Facebook is adding the option for users to turn off all political advertising in the Facebook and Instagram apps from today, the company has announced in a blog post.
The option will pop up for users directly on any political ad that appears on the two Facebook-owned platforms. Users will also be able to hide ads by clicking on the advertisement or by accessing a new menu option in either of the app’s ad settings.
The new ability to disable political ads will apply to political, electoral, and social issue ads from candidates, Super PACs and other organizations that include the “Paid for by” political disclaimer.
The option will appear immediately for some U.S. users and roll out more broadly in the coming weeks. Facebook says is also plans to make the setting available outside the U.S. in countries where it has enforcement on ads about social issues, elections and politics.
In addition, Facebook says it is ensuring ads are more transparent by making sure the “Paid for by” disclaimers on political ads follow them after they’ve been shared. It is also allowing anyone who uses the company’s Ad Library to track ad spending for Congressional races, rather than just making it available for U.S. presidential campaigns.
Along with the changes to how it manages political ads, Facebook also announced a Voting Information Center that will provide information on how and where to vote, as well as how to register to vote and how to vote by mail. Users can also turn on alerts that will remind them to vote and direct them to polling places when voting begins in November.
“We’ve built some of the most advanced systems in the world to combat election interference,” said Facebook. “The Voting Information Center will be another line of defense.”
In an op-ed published in USA Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested these efforts were a response to criticisms about the platform’s lack of action to curb the spread of misinformation online.
“Everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content. We have rules against speech that will cause imminent physical harm or suppress voting, and no one is exempt from them. But accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say.
“Ultimately, I believe the best way to hold politicians accountable is through voting, and I believe we should trust voters to make judgments for themselves. That’s why I think we should maintain as open a platform as possible, accompanied by ambitious efforts to boost voter participation.”
Facebook says its goal is to register 4 million voters this year using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, which is double the number of people it believes it helped register in 2016 and 2018.
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