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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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