Facebook allows American users to stop seeing political ads

Mark Zuckerberg, at Georgetown University, October 17, 2019.

Six months after assuring that it would allow its users to see less political advertising, Facebook has just announced that they will be able to get rid of it. In a column published in USA Today Social network founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday June 17 that Facebook will “Launch the possibility of deactivating political advertisements”.

“For those of you who have already made your choice, and just want to end the election, we can hear you”, writes Mark Zuckerberg, at the end of his message. “We will remind you, however, to go and vote. “

Contacted by CNBC, Facebook specifies that American social network users will be able to deactivate ads on political, electoral and social subjects published by political candidates, the Super PACs (Political Action Commettee – “political action committees”) and other organizations identified as political. This functionality is to be deployed from Wednesday, June 17, and should be available to all US users in the coming weeks.

When a user comes across one of these messages, it will be possible for him to deactivate all future political advertisements from this post. It is also possible to deactivate this type of advertising directly in the Facebook and Instagram settings. Facebook also says it wants this feature to be available in other countries starting this fall.

Facebook doesn’t respond to everything

Facebook has been criticized for its approach to the subject of political advertising for several months. In October, Twitter decided to ban them on its platform. Google hadn’t gone that far, but had decided to restrict certain targeting a month later.

For the New york times, this decision allows Facebook “To play on both sides of a complicated debate on the role of political advertising on social networks, before the presidential election [états-unienne], in November. With this change, Facebook can continue to allow them on its network, while finding a way to reduce the number of people targeted and thus find a beginning of compromise with its critics, who believe that it could do more to moderate toxic speech. “

However, not sure it will silence all critics, because with this feature, Facebook only answers part of the problem. As the specialized site recalled TechCrunch in January, “Facebook has been very clear that it will not verify information from political advertisements, or block political messages that break its rules, thereby giving carte blanche to politicians who publish hateful lies,” they want it. “

Mark Zuckerberg expressed himself on this subject in his editorial published on June 17: “I know that many people would like us to moderate and delete certain messages from political figures. We have rules against speeches that will cause immediate physical injury or that are intended to restrict the right to vote. No one is above these rules. But it only works if we can see what those who want our voices say, even if we viscerally hate what they say. “

Questions of moderation of political content are a big point of tension at Facebook. At the end of May, while Twitter moderated Donald Trump after a message considered as violent concerning the demonstrations in Minneapolis, Facebook decided not to act on the publications of the president of the United States, raising in particular questions of freedom of expression. This choice was widely criticized, both by some outside observers and by internal employees.

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