Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Facebook, Instagram allow ads saying election was stolen; AP allows weeklies to use its story debunking the claim

Meta Platforms is letting ads on Facebook and Instagram question the legitimacy of the 2020 election, The Wall Street Journal reports. "Meta made the change last year, but it hasn’t gained wide attention," the Journal's Salvador Rodriguez writes. "The company decided to allow political advertisers to say past elections were 'rigged' or 'stolen' but prevented them from questioning the legitimacy of ongoing and coming elections."

The change was one of several "the social-media company and other platforms have made to loosen constraints on campaign advertising," Rodriguez reports. "Executives at Meta made the decision based on free-speech considerations after weighing past U.S. elections in which the results might have been contested by a portion of the electorate, according to people familiar with the issue."

"An Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump has found fewer than 475 — a number that would have made no difference," AP's Christina Cassidy reported in December 2021. At the request of the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky, AP agreed in 2021 to allow weekly newspapers that are not AP subscribers to republish the story and its sidebars with details on individual states, if they alos include links to it and the sidebar. (The institute publishes The Rural Blog; if you have republished the AP material, please email

"Some candidates already appear to have questioned elections in ads," Rodriguez reports, noting that Trump ran a Facebook ad in August saying “We had a rigged election.” Rodriguez writes, "Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public-policy director who wasn’t involved in the decision, said it would be challenging for social-media companies to preach free speech yet ban politicians from questioning the results of the 2020 election, which has become such a significant part of the public discourse." Harbath leads the elections program at the Integrity Institute, which studies and addresses the social harms of internet platforms.

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