With the midterm elections fast approaching, social media platforms are gearing up for a flurry of election-related activity and announcing ahead of time how they will handle various aspects of online campaigning and electioneering.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is obviously at the forefront of such efforts, and it just revealed that it will block all new election-related ads one week prior to Election Day, The Washington Times reported.
That announcement came from Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, who previously served as a deputy prime minister in the United Kingdom, and is ostensibly intended to level the playing field by not allowing last-minute claims from candidates or groups to which opponents would have little time to effectively respond.
No new ads just prior to Election Day
Clegg published a blog post on Tuesday that outlined Meta’s wide-ranging plans for dealing with the 2022 midterm elections which is admittedly just a slightly tweaked variation of how the company handled the 2020 election.
“We will also prohibit new political, electoral, and social issue ads during the final week of the election campaign, as we did in 2020,” Clegg wrote. “Ads that have previously run before this restriction period will be allowed to run during this time.”
However, unlike in 2020, those ads that had previously run prior to the restriction period can no longer be edited for content or altered in any substantial way.
Clegg offered a rationale for that decision: “in the final days of an election, we recognize there may not be enough time to contest new claims made in ads. This restriction period will lift the day after the election and we have no plans to extend it.”
Fact-checking, misinformation, and notifications
The Hill reported that other aspects of Meta’s plan for the 2022 midterms included cracking down on alleged misinformation about elections and voting and investing $5 million to bolster its 10 affiliated “fact checker” organizations, five of which now cover Spanish-language content.
Clegg wrote that alleged misinformation that would be removed could include “misinformation about the dates, locations, times, and methods of voting; misinformation about who can vote, whether a vote will be counted, and qualifications for voting; and calls for violence related to voting, voter registration, or the administration or outcome of an election,” as well as ads or posts that question the “legitimacy” of the electoral system.
Meta will also begin to offer election-related notifications in multiple languages where appropriate, but such notifications will be more “targeted and strategic” compared to 2020 following an abundance of complaints that the notification labels had been greatly “over-used” in the prior election cycle.
Trump will remain banned until at least January 2023
One change that won’t be happening prior to the midterm elections, according to Politico, is a return to Facebook of former President Donald Trump, even if he were to formally announce himself as a candidate for the 2024 presidential election.
Trump was indefinitely banned from all of Meta’s platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in 2021, and the company will not revisit that decision or allow him to be reinstated until at least Jan. 7, 2023.