Facebook weighs 'kill switch' for political ads after U.S. election to curb misinformation, source says

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Facebook Inc (FB.O) is considering halting political advertising after U.S. Election Day to curb post-election misinformation, a source who has had discussions with the company said Friday.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for Facebook, said the company has talked with experts about potential election scenarios, including the possibility of U.S. President Donald Trump using the platform to dispute election results.

The New York Times reported here on Friday, citing unnamed sources, that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and some company executives met daily about how to minimize ways the platform could be used to dispute the election and have discussed the option of a political ads "kill switch" after the Nov. 3 election.

“It is previously reported news that we are considering a range of political advertising options during the closing period of the election,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement, declining to provide details.

Last year, smaller rival Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) banned political ads, but Facebook has maintained that it does not want to stifle political speech.

Twitter (TWTR.N) told Reuters that it was planning for an election period that effectively continued to Inauguration Day in January and for misinformation policies to cover any unique scenarios.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement: “President Trump will continue to work to ensure the security and integrity of our elections.”

“The lengths to which Big Tech will go to obstruct President Trump truly know no bounds,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager. “Facebook is a social media website – not the arbiter of election results.”

Twitter in recent months has placed fact-checking and warning labels on tweets from President Trump, unlike Facebook.

In June, Facebook started labeling all posts and ads about voting with links to authoritative information, including those from politicians.