Georgia Is Finally on Facebook’s Mind as Senate Runoff Elections Draw Nearer
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Georgia Is Finally on Facebook’s Mind as Senate Runoff Elections Draw Nearer

By  |  December 16, 2020  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Facebook finally responded to criticism that its indefinite ban on political ads was negatively impacting campaign efforts tor the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia.

Google lifted its ad ban last week, but Facebook’s had remained in place since being imposed Oct. 27, much to the chagrin of the campaigns for the two Democratic challengers and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Product manager Sarah Schiff said in a Newsroom post Tuesday that Facebook will begin enabling advertisers that are authorized to run ads about social issues, elections or politics to run ads specifically in Georgia starting Wednesday (Dec. 16) at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET.

Georgia residents who do not opt to take advantage of early voting options go to the polls Jan. 5.

Schiff said advertisers with direct involvement in the runoff elections—including the campaigns, state and local election officials and state and national political parties—will receive prioritized onboarding, adding that more information is available here.

Ads that target locations outside of Georgia or that are not relevant to the elections will be rejected for violating Facebook’s ad policies, and the social network will continue to prohibit any ads that include content that was debunked by Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers or that attempts to delegitimize the election.

Schiff wrote, “We are maintaining our temporary pause for ads about social issues, elections or politics in the U.S. However, in recent weeks, we’ve heard feedback from experts and advertisers across the political spectrum about the importance of expressing voice and using our tools to reach voters ahead of Georgia’s runoff elections. We agree that our ad tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections. So, we have developed a process to allow advertisers to run ads with the purpose of reaching voters in Georgia about Georgia’s runoff elections.”

On the user side, reliable information about helping people to register and vote in Georgia will appear at the top of Facebook and Instagram, including how and when to register and how to request a mail-in ballot.

Facebook
Facebook

Facebook will also show people how to find polling place times and locations for early voting, followed by how to return mail-in ballots, and then how to vote on Jan. 5.

Schiff said Facebook’s notifications link to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website and are available in English and Spanish on Facebook and Instagram, as well as several additional languages on Facebook.

Content that attempts to delegitimize voting in the Georgia runoff elections will be labeled, such as claims that voting by mail leads to fraud.

The labels will contain accurate information from the Bipartisan Policy Center addressing the underlying claims in the content.

If someone attempts to share that content, a message will direct them to Facebook’s Voting Information Center for reliable election information.

Finally, Schiff detailed the deployment of the teams and technology the social network used for the general elections last month and what they will focus on:

  • Running Facebook’s Elections Operations Center to monitor and respond to threats in real-time.
  • Taking down coordinated networks of inauthentic accounts, pages and groups to halt influence operations.
  • Working with state election authorities to identify and stop potential instances of voter suppression.
  • Enabling state and local officials in Georgia to use the Voting Alerts) feature to send notifications about the election to users in their jurisdiction.
  • Enforcing voter interference policies via a combination of artificial intelligence and human review.
  • Applying warning labels in both English and Spanish to content deemed false by fact-checking partners.
  • Protecting the accounts of election officials from harassment and other threats, on top of the social network’s Facebook Protect program, that provides security tools and additional protections to safeguard the Facebook and Instagram accounts of campaigns, elected officials, federal and state political party committees and staff.

About the Author: David Cohen

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