Facebook received its share of criticism over the 2016 election thanks to Russian operatives using the social media platform to sow disinformation and disagreement. As a result, ahead of the 2020 census—the first people can complete online—Facebook is taking measures to protect against interference.
In a blog post on the company’s site, Facebook outlines “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.”
The company worked with the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as the civil rights community “to develop thoughtful rules around prohibiting census interference on our platforms and making sure people can use their voice to be counted.”
The post outlines some of the specifics involved in its new policy.
“Our census interference policy will prohibit:
- Misrepresentation of the dates, locations, times and methods for census participation;
- Misrepresentation of who can participate in the census and what information and/or materials must be provided in order to participate;
- Content stating that census participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences;
- Misrepresentation of government involvement in the census, including that an individual’s census information will be shared with another government agency; and
- Calls for coordinated interference that would affect an individual’s ability to participate in the census, enforcement of which often requires additional information and context.
“We will begin enforcement next month and use a combination of technology and people to proactively identify content that may violate this policy. All content surfaced will be assessed by a team of reviewers who will benefit from the training and guidance of a consultant with census expertise. And as with voter interference, content that violates our census interference policy will not be allowed to remain on our platforms as newsworthy even if posted by a politician.”
Information that may be inaccurate, but not necessarily violate the new policy, may still be fact-checked. If it is found to be false, it will have prominent labels and rank lower in news feeds. The company promises to share “accurate, non-partisan information about how to participate in the census in consultation with the US Census Bureau.”