Facebook May Restrict Content On Election Day

(The Street) – Facebook (FB) may restrict content to its users on election day if the build-up to the final results leads to chaos or violent civic unrest, a top company executive said.

On Tuesday, Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg told the Financial Times, “There are some break-glass options available to us if there really is an extremely chaotic and, worse still, violent set of circumstances.”

“We have acted aggressively in other parts of the world where we think that there is real civic instability and we obviously have the tools to do that [again], including pretty exceptional measures to significantly restrict the circulation of content on our platform,” Clegg added. Clegg is referring to periods of unrest in parts of Sri Lanka and Myanmar when the company took unprecedented action to curtail the spread of misinformation on its platform.

There are 42 days left until the U.S. presidential election is held on Nov.3.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company is exploring close to 70 different potential scenarios and outcomes for election day, according to a person familiar with the matter cited in the FT report.

Clegg said Facebook has already started carrying out “proactive sweeps” for content linked to dangerous groups. “Especially in areas where we know that their activity is likely to be more pronounced [than] in other parts of the country,” Clegg told FT.

Any high-stakes decisions on Nov.3 will be taken by a team of top executives including Clegg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg — with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg holding the right to overrule positions, FT reported.

Earlier this month, Zuckerberg announced that the company will block all new political ads during the week leading up to election day and remove any posts that spread misinformation or try to suppress voting. The announcement appeared to back away from Zuckerberg’s previous stance against moderating election ads.

Facebook estimated it has helped 2.5 million users to register to vote in the upcoming U.S. presidential election through Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, the company said on Monday.

Facebook reported it has 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide at the end of June this year.

Shares of Facebook were up 2% to $254 in recent action on Tuesday.


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