Facebook announced Thursday that it will ban misleading posts and ads about the U.S. census, according tomedia CNET. The new rules also cover politicians who try to suppress census participation, the company said. The social media giant has come under fire for not fact-checking politicians’ ads.
Facebook will prohibit users from misrepresenting when/where and how to participate in the census. The company also does not allow ads to describe participation in the census as “useless or pointless.” The census, conducted every decade, helps determine which states and communities receive billions of dollars in federal funding, as well as the number of seats each state has in Congress.
The new rules are consistent with companies’ past actions to deal with misleading information and curbing behavior. Facebook, for example, does not allow users to post false information about when and where to vote. Civil rights advocates praised the company for introducing a new policy to combat census misinformation, but said its success would depend on the extent to which Facebook implemented the new rules.
“The quality of this latest policy depends on implementation and transparency, which is clearly an area where Facebook has failed in the past,” Rashad Robinson, president of the National Civil Rights Advocacy Group Color Of Change, said in a statement. “
Facebook said it would implement its policy next month. Facebook said in a blog post Thursday that a review team of consultants with census expertise will look into whether the content violates the company’s new policy. If the content does not violate the rules but still contains false information, Facebook sends it to a third-party fact checker and prevents it from spreading if it is rated “false.”
The U.S. Census Bureau has also asked other technology companies, such as Google and Twitter, to help combat fake news, Reuters reported. Google’s YouTube has also introduced a policy to ban misleading content about the census. False information about the census has spread on social media.
“As the census format evolves, so does the way people share census information,” Kevin Martin, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for the United States, and Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s director of citizen engagement product management, said in a blog post. This means we must be vigilant to prevent the census from interfering with posts and ads on Facebook and Instagram. “