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Facebook will ban ads that tell people in US not to vote

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SAN FRANCISCO Facebook will ban ads that discourage people from voting ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, according to its second annual Civil Rights Audit published on Sunday.

Facebook pledged to put its new "don't vote" policy prohibition into effect in the fall, before the 2019 US elections on Nov 5, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post announcing the report.

Last year, Facebook expanded its policies against voter suppression by banning posts that spread misinformation on voting methods, election dates and times, and polling locations.

Those rules include banning intimidation tactics such as misrepresentations on whether votes will be counted.

The new "don't vote" policy is in its developmental stages and the company is seeking advice from voting organisations.

Facebook said the policy is likely to apply only in the US in its initial release and will not include the policing of organic posts from users.

Facebook said it works proactively to remove malicious election-related content. The company is now encompassing "do not vote" ads in its efforts to ward off coordinated efforts to influence elections.

The social media giant has been used to spread misinformation about previous elections.

US intelligence agencies say there was an extensive Russian cyber-influence operation during the 2016 campaign aimed at helping President Donald Trump get elected. Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations.

"We focused on ads because there is a targeted component in them," Facebook public policy director Neil Potts said.

"We recognise it as a political tactic, which is much more in line with voter suppression."

Ads telling people to "boycott the election" disproportionately targeted African American Facebook users, according to Mr Ian Vandewalker, senior council at the Brennan Centre for Justice.

- REUTERS

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