Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2019.
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters
Facebook will not allow anyone on its platform, including politicians, to post misleading information about the 2020 Census, the company announced Thursday.
Facebook rolled out its new census interference policy in a blog post as the tech industry prepares to fight misinformation that plagued the 2016 election cycle. Google outlined its own policies for census content in a blog post last week and clarified that ads sharing incorrect information on participating in the census will be banned.
Facebook’s census policy, which includes new guidelines for advertisers, takes a much harder line on misinformation than its general political advertising policy. Facebook has refused to remove or fact-check ads with false claims from its platform if they were posted by politicians. In a call with analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his stance, saying, “I don’t think it’s right for private companies to censor politicians and the news.” Twitter, by contrast, decided to ban political ads altogether, while Google eventually took a middle path.
“[A]s with voter interference, content that violates our census interference policy will not be allowed to remain on our platforms as newsworthy even if posted by a politician,” Facebook wrote in its blog post.
Beginning next month, Facebook will enforce its new standards, which prohibit misrepresentation of how to participate in the census, claims about bogus law enforcement risks for participating and calls for coordinated interference with others’ participation in the census. Inaccurate information that does not violate the policy will still be eligible for fact-checking, Facebook said.
Facebook’s new ad policy will ban “ads that portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census.”
Facebook will beef up transparency requirements for census-related ads. Advertisers seeking to run these ads will have to complete a more robust authorization process and include a disclaimer on who paid for the ad. Census-related ads will be saved in Facebook’s public Ad Library for at least seven years, the company said.