Facebook Will Allow Users to Turn Off Political Ads

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg  -TheFacebookDilemma - Publicity - ONE TIME USE ONLY -REUTERS 2- H 2018
Courtesy of REUTERS/ Leah Millis

The policy change comes as the social media giant faced fierce criticism that politicians and groups could run ads containing false information on its platform.

Facebook will allow users to turn off political ads in the next few weeks, a significant policy change coming after months of criticism that politicians and political groups could run ads containing false information on its platform. 

In a USA Today op-ed on Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, "For those of you who've already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we're also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads."

Zuckerberg added that Facebook will display a Voting Information Center tab at the top of U.S. users' news feeds and on Instagram, with information on how, when and where to vote as well as helping people to register to vote. The company also pledged to help 4 million people register to vote for the upcoming presidential election in November.

The policy change comes at a time the social media giant, and Zuckerberg in particular, are under siege for allowing bad faith and nefarious actors to run ads on its platform unimpeded. Twitter, by contrast, banned all political ads last October. 

In addition to outside criticism, there has been fierce internal pushback at Zuckerberg's strategy on political ads as well as misinformation and harmful content found on Facebook. This pushback has increasingly spilled out publicly onto social media, and two weeks ago several senior Facebook employees publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the company's inaction over President Donald Trump's incendiary posts about the Minneapolis protests against police brutality. 

The criticism heightened last week when presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Facebook to reverse its decision to exempt political ads from fact-checking. Zuckerberg has long argued that Facebook should not be "arbiters of truth" and that voters should be able to decide for themselves, unhindered, when it came to political ads.