Published: 11:26 AM, 30 October 2020
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday warned of thepotential for civil unrest as votes are tallied in a US election that will be“a test” for the social network.
Zuckerberg expressed his concern while describing safeguardsagainst misinformation and voter suppression at the leading social network thatare intended to avoid the kinds of deception and abuse that played out fouryears ago.
“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and electionresults potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized there is a risk ofcivil unrest,” said Zuckerberg, who had also been grilled during a session on CapitolHill earlier this week.
“Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond whatwe’ve done before.”
Confusion early this week over political ads at Facebookmarred the onset of what was supposed to be a cooling-off period ahead of theUS presidential election November 3.
Rival parties complained Facebook was undermining campaignefforts after blunders arose around a ban on new paid political ads beingpublished in the week before Election Day.
“We’re investigating the issues of some ads being pausedincorrectly, and
some advertisers having trouble making changes to theircampaigns,” Facebook product manager Rob Leathern said in a tweet when the bankicked in Tuesday.
Political ad publishers can sidestep the ban by getting theadvertisements loaded into Facebook prior to the deadline, and thendisseminating them to a wider audience later.
California-based Facebook has tightened its rules onpolitical advertising ahead of the 2020 election in other ways too, includingprohibiting attempts to undermine the electoral process.
And on Tuesday, senior media advisor for Democraticpresidential contender Joe Biden, Megan Clasen, tweeted a screen capture of aTrump Facebook ad showing a picture of the president and the message “ElectionDay Is Today.”
But the former vice president’s campaign had been told byFacebook they could not launch ads saying election day was “today” or even“tomorrow,” Clasen said in the tweet.
Democratic political strategist Eric Reif said on Twitterthat he and others were working to have ads restored that had been mistakenlyremoved by Facebook.
“While next week will be a test for Facebook, I am proud ofthe work we have done here,” Zuckerberg said.
“I also know that our work doesn’t stop after November 3rd,”Zuckerberg said.
“So we will keep anticipating new threats, evolving ourapproach and fighting to protect the integrity of the democratic process andthe right of people to make their voices heard around the world.”