Right or wrong, people depend on what they read on social media to determine how they’re going to vote. As such, candidates use social media as one of their main outlets for posting ads. TV ads may or may not be seen since so many people choose to use streaming sites.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has decided that it’s his place to play interference with the elections. The CEO wants to play favorites with the candidates. Rather than allowing social media to be what it is supposed to be, he wants to start playing some very dangerous games.
Facebook has made the decision to block new political ads in the final week leading up to the US presidential election. Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is already responsible for running the largest voting information campaign, with a goal to help 4 million people register and vote. In three days, they saw 24 million clicks toward voter registration websites. He also acknowledged that he, personally, donated $300 million to nonpartisan organizations to support the voting infrastructure.
The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I'm concerned…
In his effort to explain why he is doing what he is doing, he tweeted out that he is trying to fight misinformation and connect people with “authoritative information.” This includes placing authoritative information from their voting information Center at the top of both Facebook and Instagram daily until the general election.
While what he is saying is a valiant effort to help, there are some questions as to where his authoritative information is actually coming from. He has also stated that, “we are going to block new political and issue ads during the final week of the campaign.” The reason for this is because he believes that there might not “be enough time to contest new claims.”
The question really becomes whether he is going to make sure that Facebook does what he says he is going to do. Blocking new political and issue ads would need to happen for both Republican and Democratic candidates. In the past, Facebook has had a reputation for pulling GOP ads while leaving Democratic ads in place. He has continuously said that he takes a nonpartisan approach only to side with the Democrats in the end.
Now, what he does say is that advertisers have the ability to continue running ads started prior to the final week. There is also the ability to adjust the target audience for those ads. It ensures that those ads remain within the Ads Library, published transparently. It ensures that journalists, fact-checkers, and others have the ability to scrutinize what’s being said.
While Zuckerberg makes this comment, he states everything in such a matter-of-fact way that it appears that he’s giving all of the information when he’s not. Where will the information be coming from that will be posted at the top of Facebook and Instagram?
Further, he goes on to explain that there will be new rules regarding threats related to COVID-19 to discourage voting. Although with one bullet point, he states that there are “many ways to vote safely” he also states that “since the pandemic means that many of us will be voting by mail, and since some states may still be counting valid ballots after election day, many experts are predicting that we may not have a final result on election night.”
Pushing the ballots by mail is a very Democratic approach – and not having a final result on election night is dangerous. It’s why the Republicans have been fighting such a thing. It’s not so much that people can’t vote by mail but that it would result in ballots not being counted in time.
Zuckerberg is right when he says that the results of the election is going to result in a significant amount of heat. The problem is that he wants to interfere with all of it instead of allowing people to take a truly democratic approach. He wants to control what people see and did not see instead of allowing people to deduce the truth on their own. It’s dangerous, and while he claims to be neutral, he is far from it – means that he will be force-feeding his opinion on millions of people around the United States.