Facebook Braces for Voter Intimidation

The social media giant will ban 'militarized language' in calls for poll watchers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2020 7:15 PM CDT
Facebook Braces for Voter Intimidation
Supporters of President Donald Trump line the sidewalk with flags, banners and cheers for a Pro-America rally in front of the Vigo County Courthouse, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Terre Haute, Ind.   (Joseph C. Garza/The Tribune-Star via AP)

Facebook said it's readied new safeguards for the 2020 US elections that have it better prepared to deal with candidates who prematurely declare victory or contest official results and the possibility of voter intimidation by alleged—and potentially armed—"poll watchers," the AP reports. In the former case, Facebook plans to halt all political advertisements once polls close on Nov. 3, an extension of an earlier restriction on new political ads in the week leading up to Election Day. The ban will likely last for a week, but Facebook says it could run longer. And it plans to label posts that cast doubt on election results with links to official information. The social network has already banned messages that promote carrying of weapons to polling places or that attempt to organize "coordinated interference" with voting.

Now it will also ban the use of "militarized language" in connection with calls for poll-watching. Under the new policy, which is not retroactive, President Trump won't be able to encourage supporters to be unofficial poll watchers as part of an "army for Trump," as he said in a tweet this week. The changes—less than three weeks before Election Day and with voting happening already—show how quickly social media companies must respond to existing and anticipated threats to the election process. Trump's campaign and its GOP allies have been going to new lengths to contest election procedures and question the integrity of mail-in ballots. Trump has also refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, though both parties have rejected his comments. (Facebook also took a swipe at conspiracy theorists.)

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