Facebook Blacklists Ads Aimed at ‘Census Interference’

Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS /Getty

Facebook announced this week that they win ban any advertisements and user content that misleads users about the 2020 United States Census. Mark Zuckerberg’s Silicon Valley giant has labeled the plan its “census interference policy.”

According to a report by Reuters, Facebook has announced that they will ban all advertisements that attempt to limit participation in the United States census. According to the company, it will remove misleading content, including advertisements, that give readers a reason to distrust the census, which is scheduled to take place in 2020.

In a blog post, Facebook said that they would ban advertisements that claimed that census participation was “useless or meaningless.” They claim that their policy was determined after conversations with experts of “diverse backgrounds.”

Today, we are announcing a new census interference policy that bans misleading information about when and how to participate in the census and the consequences of participating. We are also introducing a new advertising policy that prohibits ads that portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census. These policies are due in large part to the work being done with the civil rights community through our civil rights audit and represent the culmination of a months-long process between Facebook, the US Census Bureau and experts with diverse backgrounds to develop thoughtful rules around prohibiting census interference on our platforms and making sure people can use their voice to be counted.

However, Facebook does not always remove content that encourages readers to reconsider their participation in the census. In September, a misleading meme that claimed that robbers were gaining access to homes by claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau. Even after the claim was debunked, Facebook did not remove the meme.

“In September, a meme spread on Facebook that falsely claimed robbers were accessing homes by posing as government workers seeking census information,” the report reads. “It was debunked by fact-checkers but not removed, in line with Facebook’s general fact-checking policies.”

The census, which takes place every ten years, will be partially administered online in 2020.

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