Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

  • Facebook is considering a “blackout” on political advertising in the run-up to the US election in November, according to Bloomberg.

  • It would be a first for Facebook, which has faced intense criticism over its policies on political advertising and hate speech in recent months.

  • Facebook hasn’t officially decided whether it will introduce the ban, and it’s not yet clear how long it might last.

Facebook is reportedly contemplating a “blackout” on political ads in the run-up to the US presidential election.

According to a report from Bloomberg on Friday, the Silicon Valley social-networking giant might place a ban on all political advertising in the days before the hotly contested election, though the company has not made a final decision.

It’s not clear how long the time frame would be beyond “days,” and a company spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Facebook has faced intense criticism over its stance on political advertising as the election approaches, with critics — and even some employees — calling for the company to reverse its decision not to fact-check political advertising, saying it can spread misinformation. The company is also grappling with an unprecedented advertiser boycott over its policing of hate speech on the platform.

A political-ad blackout in the US would be a first for Facebook, but many countries already place varying restrictions on political campaigning or political reporting in the run-up to elections, including the UK, Spain, and Israel.

Facebook has explored — though not committed to — such an idea before. In December, The Washington Post reported that the company had been thinking about such a blackout for a 72-hour time frame, as well as other changes to political advertising, including “limiting the number of ads a single candidate can run at a time … and raising the minimum number of people that a campaign could target with an ad.”

Meanwhile, Twitter took a very different approach to its larger rival, banning political advertising altogether in October.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pushed back against a blanket ban on political ads, saying in a speech: “Given the sensitivity around political ads, I’ve considered whether we should stop allowing them altogether. From a business perspective, the controversy certainly isn’t worth the small part of our business they make up. But political ads are an important part of voice — especially for local candidates, up-and-coming challengers, and advocacy groups that may not get much media attention otherwise. Banning political ads favors incumbents and whoever the media covers.”

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