Due to all of the recent criticism that social media is receiving about possible interference in the 2020 presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday that his social media networks, Facebook and Instagram, will now allow the option for users to stop seeing political ads on their newsfeeds.
“For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads,” Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed published by USA Today. “We’ll still remind you to vote.”
For the last several months, Facebook has been the subject of much criticism for its policy that allows politicians to run political ads that contain blatant lies and other false information on its platform. Other social media platforms, like Twitter, have stepped up and banned pollical ads on their sites since October 2019.
Facebook users will now be able to steer clear of any unwanted political and social issue ads from individual candidates, Super PACs and “other organizations that have the ‘Paid for by’ political disclaimer on them.”
The new feature began Wednesday in the U.S. for some users, and it will be available to all U.S. users within the next few weeks. Facebook said it plans to expand the political ad blocking feature to more countries where enforcement of political ads and fear of interference in elections is known to be an issue.
When logged into Facebook and a user sees one of these political ads, there will be an option within the advertisement to turn off all future political ads. There will also be an option to change the preferences in the settings feature of Facebook and Instagram. Users will then have a chance to report any ads that appear in the newsfeed that should have been blocked as well.
The social media platform also announced that they plan to help over 4 million people register to vote via their new Voting Information Center that will be released soon in the U.S.
The new Voting Information Center will be located at the top of the Facebook and Instagram News Feed and will include information about how to register to vote, when to vote, how to vote by mail, and more. The new voting resource tab will also include posts from local and state election officials that users may find useful.
“I believe Facebook has a responsibility not just to prevent voter suppression — which disproportionately targets people of color — but to actively support well-informed voter engagement, registration, and turnout,” said Zuckerberg said