After runoff elections, Facebook reinstates a ban on political advertisements in Georgia

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The website briefly exempted the state from the statewide ban ahead of the Senate election on Tuesday.

After Tuesday’s election in the state of Georgia, Facebook has announced it will once again ban political ads for its users. The social media firm said Georgia users would again be subject to the U.S.-wide ban on political ads that was placed in place after the presidential election on Nov. 3 beginning Wednesday. In order to encourage political messages to reach more voters, Facebook briefly lifted the ban in Georgia ahead of the runoff election. “After the Georgia runoff election, Georgia will rejoin the existing statewide pause on social issues, polling and political ads,” Facebook said in a blog post. The company told advertisers in an email reviewed by Reuters, “This is part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the potential for confusion or abuse,” After the November presidential election, Facebook and Google launched pauses on political advertising to tackle disinformation and other violations on the sites. On Dec. 15, on the basis of input from analysts and marketers across the political spectrum on the “importance of expressing opinions” and using Facebook to reach voters ahead of Georgia’s runoff elections, Facebook removed its own ad ban for the state of Georgia only. The move announced on Tuesday means that all Georgia runoff advertisements will be paused and any advertisers previously permitted to run Georgia runoff advertisements will not be able to produce new political advertisements. Technology companies have promised to tackle racial equality: how did they go? A study by the human rights group Avaaz found a number of Republican-sponsored Facebook advertisements featuring disinformation or falsehoods to sway voters in Georgia. One funded by the Senate Leadership Fund argued that candidate Jon Ossoff of the Democratic Senate “threatens to defund police,” which he does not.

Another, written in December, from the Republican Party, accused the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi tried to replace President-elect Joe Biden with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Almost half of these misleading advertising were shared in the race by political parties excluded from the fact-checking laws of Facebook. Facebook has come under fire for giving politicians who advertise on its site broad exemptions.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, defended the policy, saying Facebook should not be the arbiter of reality in political scenarios. Critics of Facebook argue the dissemination of lies before the election in Georgia underscores how unsuccessful the efforts of the organization have been in solving these problems. Launched in late 2020, the company’s oversight council was expected to mediate disagreements over content.

But the community is unable to easily delete content, restricting its usefulness in news-breaking circumstances.

The disinformation exposed this week in Georgia is confirmation that more needs to be done, according to a group of scholars and civil rights activists who condemn Facebook and call themselves the True Facebook Oversight Board. “The Facebook Oversight Board is complicit in a misinformation campaign in Georgia,” the group said in a statement. “They must do better, and Facebook must be held accountable for their failure to protect voters from disinformation. “

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