Facebook is tweaking its approach to political ads ahead of the 2020 election.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media company announced in a blog post that it won’t accept new political ads in the week before Election Day. The decision comes after the platform has come under fire for refusing to censor, fact check or remove certain political content for years.
Facebook has also been criticized for the role it played ahead of the 2016 election when Russian trolls and bots used ads on the website to spread controversial topics that may have stoked political division.
“The US elections are just two months away, and with COVID-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned about the challenges people could face when voting,” wrote Zuckerberg in a post published Thursday. “I’m also worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or even weeks to be finalized, there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”
As part of the effort, the company said it will take down posts that discourage people from voting by telling them they will get COVID-19 if they go to the polls. Trump previously tweeted that mail drop boxes are a “voting disaster” not “COVID sanitized.”
Facebook said it will label content that “seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods” and “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.”
Facebook’s update suggests that the rules don’t take effect until late October. The Presidential election takes place on Nov. 3.
Still, the announcement demonstrates to some degree that the company has lightened up on its hands-off approach to moderating what politicians share. Facebook has previously said that its policy is to leave questionable and divisive political ads place in the name of public interest and newsworthiness.