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Facebook announces plan to label newsworthy posts that break rules

Facebook to add labels to newsworthy content that violate policy
WATCH: Facebook to add labels to newsworthy content that violate policy

Facebook Inc said on Friday it will start labelling newsworthy content that violates the social media company’s policies, and label all posts and ads about voting with links to authoritative information, including those from politicians.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed its new policy would have meant attaching a link on voting information to U.S. President Donald Trump’s post last month about mail-in ballots. Rival Twitter had affixed a fact-checking label to that post.

Read more: It’s not just Trump — Twitter fact-checking thousands of tweets, many about coronavirus

Facebook has drawn heat from employees and lawmakers in recent weeks over its decisions not to act on inflammatory posts by the president.

“There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today,” Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

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Zuckerberg also said Facebook would ban ads that claim people from groups based on race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status are a threat to physical safety or health.

The policy changes come during a growing ad boycott campaign, called “Stop Hate for Profit,” that was started by several U.S. civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd, to pressure the company to act on hate speech and misinformation.

Zuckerberg’s address fell short, said Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights group Color Of Change, which is one of the groups behind the boycott campaign.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to review content policies after backlash
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to review content policies after backlash

“What we’ve seen in today’s address from Mark Zuckerberg is a failure to wrestle with the harms FB has caused on our democracy & civil rights,” Robinson tweeted.

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“If this is the response he’s giving to major advertisers withdrawing millions of dollars from the company, we can’t trust his leadership.”

Shares of Facebook closed down more than 8 per cent and Twitter ended 7 per cent lower on Friday after Unilever PLC said it would stop its U.S. ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”

Read more: Twitter puts warning on Trump tweet for breaking ‘glorifying violence’ rule

More than 90 advertisers including Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co Ltd’s U.S. subsidiary, Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s, Verizon Communications Inc and The North Face, a unit of VF Corp, have joined the campaign, according to a list by ad activism group Sleeping Giants.

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One of Facebook’s top spenders, consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Co, on Wednesday pledged to conduct a review of ad platforms and stop spending where it found hateful content. P&G declined to say if it had reached a decision on Facebook.

Joe Biden says he’s concerned Donald Trump will ‘try to steal this election’
Joe Biden says he’s concerned Donald Trump will ‘try to steal this election’

The campaign specifically asks businesses not to advertise on Facebook’s platforms in July, though Twitter has also long been urged to clean up alleged abuses and misinformation on its platform.

“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from under-represented communities and marginalized groups,” said Sarah Personette, vice president for Twitter’s Global Client Solutions.

Read more: Reality check: Trump claims mail-in ballots will cause ‘rigged election’

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“We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman pointed to its civil rights audit and investments in Artificial Intelligence that allow it to find and take action on hate speech.

Facebook closes loophole in political ads ahead of U.S. election
Facebook closes loophole in political ads ahead of U.S. election

“We know we have more work to do,” she said, noting that Facebook will continue working with civil rights groups, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, and other experts to develop more tools, technology and policies to “continue this fight.”