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Facebook will ban new political adverts in week before US presidential election

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement in a statement to address concerns about how Facebook could be used to manipulate the election.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement in a statement to address concerns about how Facebook could be used to manipulate the election.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Facebook has announced that it will ban new political adverts on its platform in the week before the 2016 US Presidential election.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the move is part of an initiative to encourage voting, limit misinformation and reduce the risk of post-election "civil unrest".

"This election is not going to be business as usual," Zuckerberg said in a post.

"We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest."

Facebook has also moved to prevent candidates and supporters from prematurely claiming victory in the election result. If a user tries to post before all results are known, readers will be redirected to a link of the official results.

The social media giant has further limited the sharing of articles on Messenger chat to prevent false information posts from going viral.

Posts and content suggesting that going to polling booths would lead to increased risk of coronavirus contamination will also be removed and labels will be added to posts which "discuss the legitimacy of voting methods".

The company confirmed to Euronews that their voter suppression policies on coronavirus-related posts which discourage voting apply to all Facebook users and ads.

Last month Facebook introduced its "Voting Information Center" which directs users to up-to-date information on the election from verified sources.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for prioritising free expression and taking a different stance to rival Twitter over political advertising.

The company has also faced backlash for labelling and not fact-checking posts from President Donald Trump, which have suggested that mail-in ballots would lead to a "fraudulent" and "rigged" election.

"These changes reflect what we've learned from our elections work over the past four years and the conversations we've had with voting rights experts and our civil rights auditors," said Zuckerberg.

Although the policy bans new political adverts in the seven days before the election, Facebook will continue to allow politicians to run adverts with false information.

The limit is also not a blackout ban, as campaigners can schedule political ads in the weeks before to run during election week, and can still change the emphasis as to how they target voters.

But Facebook has defended the policy, saying it will allow fact-checkers and journalists to verify "eligible content" before election day.

Euronews has contacted Facebook for clarity on whether political adverts will be "eligible content" for fact-checking.

Click on the player above to watch Seana Davis' report in #TheCube.