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Amid Spread of Misinformation, Whispers on FB's Next Move

Sources tell Bloomberg the social media platform is considering banning political ads before election
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2020 6:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Facebook has been struggling lately over a massive advertiser boycott, partly driven by the company's refusal to address political ads spreading misinformation on the platform. Now, people familiar with Facebook's thinking say the company is considering banning political ads in the days leading up to the November election, per Bloomberg. The outlet's sources say the idea is only in the discussion phase, and Business Insider notes it's not clear what exact timeline the term "days" would encompass. Nixing political ads, campaigning, or political reporting in the time period right before elections happens elsewhere around the globe, including in the UK, Israel, and Spain. Twitter, meanwhile, has already banned political ads.

Still, critics of the idea, including Democratic political operatives, worry such a ban would help Trump, as he could keep tweeting and using other methods of spreading iffy info, while those trying to push back may not have the same resources. "Eliminating online political ads only benefits those with money, incumbency or the ability to get media coverage," tweeted Alex Stamos, ex-chief security officer for Facebook. "Who does that sound like?" Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed the same, adding it could get murky if ads about such topics like immigration or health care were allowed by everyone but candidates. Joe Biden's digital director, Rob Flaherty, also notes an ad ban wouldn't completely address misinformation spread, especially via posts in private Facebook groups, per Reuters. "Requisite reminder that Facebook's problems are 80% about unpaid content," he tweeted. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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