Stop the lies in political ads
Facebook should fact check advertisements placed by politicians and political campaigns. In other words, it should hold these political ads to the same standards it applies to advertisements that are not placed by politicians. As Facebook employees said in an open letter to company leadership, “Misinformation shared by political advertisers has an outsized detrimental impact on our community.” If you or I lied in an advertisement on Facebook, it would immediately be taken down.
Prohibit political ad microtargeting
Right now political campaigns can target their ads so precisely that they can pinpoint them to reach specific voters. The problem with this, according to former Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub, is that “false and misleading messages may be disseminated in a way that does not allow people with conflicting information to counter those messages, because they won't see them.” Facebook already restricts targeting for industries with a history of discrimination, like housing. They should do the same with political ads.
Refuse service to anyone trying to disrupt the 2020 election
All businesses can refuse service to a person who violates their policies. Restaurants usually require patrons wear shoes and shirts. Facebook should require that users refrain from using the platform to disrupt the 2020 election. They can do this by implementing terms of service or acceptable usage policies that require users to follow certain rules about how Facebook can be used.
Dedicate resources to stamping out election disinformation
Facebook has promised to do better on elections, even setting up a dedicated information center
to encourage voter registration. But none of the gestures mean anything if they don't take meaningful action to address misinformation.
Facebook's empty promises on "election integrity" are not enough. Reporting in July from Pro Publica and First Draft
revealed that nearly HALF of the top-performing posts on Facebook about mail-in ballots were false.
The best way to stop the spread of misinformation is before it starts. We're calling on Facebook to commit additional staff and spending to stop the spread of election disinformation in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S election. How much extra? Whatever it takes to ensure candidates can't place ads brimming with blatant falsehoods, and organized groups can't sow confusion on mail-in ballots or voting locations.
There’s no dearth of ideas for how to reform Facebook to protect our democracy and our civil society. Facebook’s own employees have put forward an excellent set of recommendations that include spending caps for politicians and observing silence periods free from political advertisements before elections. Another strong set of recommendations was put forward by Change the Terms, which focuses on how the platform can enforce an acceptable use policy to prevent Facebook from being used to incite hate, fear and abusive behavior. Finally, a number of organizations make the case that the Federal Trade Commission should break up Facebook, which now has unprecedented power to decide what news and information billions of people around the world see every day.