Social media giant Facebook is standing by its policies that limit political ads while promoting free-speech – decisions that have huge implications for the 2020 elections.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited Washington, D.C. last fall to defend Facebook’s refusal to fact-check candidates’ claims and upheld their policy based on free-speech grounds. He said that voters ought to be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying and then make decisions on their own.
President Donald Trump’s campaign has urged Facebook not to limit ad-targeting, and accused Twitter of trying to “silence conservatives” when it banned political ads altogether in October.
Spending by politicians on ads are projected to go as high as $6 billion in the 2020 election cycle, according to companies that analyze the advertising market. Facebook and Google are by far the biggest platforms for online political advertising and therefore carry tremendous influence on the voting populace.
Several months ago, Google announced that it would limit audience targeting on election ads to only three main types: age, gender and residential location.
If Facebook decided to limit political microtargeting like its competitor, there would be major implications in candidates’ capacity to fundraise and collect the contact information of potential supporters. But, according to its CEO, Facebook will be taking matters into its own hands.
Mark Zuckerberg recently communicated his vision for Facebook in the 2020’s. He rightfully identified one of the biggest questions for the next decade: “how should we govern the large new digital communities that the internet has enabled?”
Zuckerberg wants to take initiative and “establish new ways for communities to govern themselves,” with the primary example of governance coming as Facebook’s new “Oversight Board.” The terminology and structure used by Facebook are reminiscent of an Orwellian Totalitarian nightmare, like the one from 1984.
Facebook affirms that having an Oversight Board means that as soon as someone comes across any content they disagree with, the “independent board (that Facebook is in charge of) will have the final decision as to whether something is allowed.” Or in other words, Facebook just tightened its control on voting influence for the 2020 election.
Zuckerberg finishes his manifesto with hopes of encouraging others to “establish more community governance” and in effect leverage more political power to those who dispense the information.