Facebook has announced that it will stop running all political and social-issue advertisements after polls close in the 2020 US presidential elections on the 3rd of November.
It is worth noting that the suspension will be temporary, as the social media giant wants to “reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse” ahead of the polling results. The platform has already banned ads outright that prematurely declare victory for a particular candidate in the election.
In spite of this development, however, there is reason to believe that the deeper problems associated with American elections and how they are influenced by the spread of misinformation on platforms like Facebook will remain unsolved.
According to Fight For The Future, a digital-rights campaign group, this new development “isn’t going to fix the problem at all”, and that the social network’s algorithms would continue to spread misinformation.
While Facebook has certainly executed positive changes, including its decision to remove any Pages, Groups, or Instagram accounts representing conspiracy theories, it has failed to come up with a solid solution to the tremendous issue of fake news.
Critics say that the social network does not do enough to fact-check posts made by politicians. In fact, it was this very inability to remove controversial statements made on its platform by politicians that compelled a senior software engineer to quit his job at the company and leave.
In a blog post, Facebook said that it would label politicians’ posts, if a candidate or party “declares premature victory before a race is called by major media outlets.“ It will notify users to direct them to its own voting information page.
However, as Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren points out, these are merely “performative changes”.
“The problem isn’t the ads themselves,” she said. “The problem is Facebook’s refusal to regulate its ads, change its broken algorithm, or take responsibility for the power it’s amassed.“