Facebook has a plan to fight census interference in 2020.
Image: MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images
Facebook revealed new rules meant to prevent meddling in the upcoming U.S. census.
Under the new policy, Facebook and Instagram will ban content, including paid advertisements, aimed at suppressing participation in the census. This comes nearly six months after promising to take census manipulation as seriously as voter suppression.
Many of the rules are similar to the social network’s policies around election misinformation. The policies specifically ban content that misrepresents dates, locations, and eligibility requirements for the census. It also specifically addresses “content stating that census participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences” and “misrepresentation of government involvement in the census.”
The company is also introducing stricter rules for census-related ads. Facebook says that any organization that wants to run ads about the census will only be able to do so after completing the same “strengthened authorization process” that applies to political ads. Facebook will also ban “ads that portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census.”
The company says it will start enforcing the new rules across Facebook and Instagram in January, and that it’s working closely with “Census officials,” some of whom will now have access to CrowdTangle, Facebook-owned software that helps news organizations and other view how links are shared across the platform.
Importantly the new rules will also apply to politicians. While Facebook has resisted fact-checking ads from politicians, the company won’t allow office-holders to spread misinformation about the census. (Facebook also prohibits politicians from running ads encouraging voter suppression.)
Lawmakers have pushed Facebook to adopt stricter rules for the upcoming census, arguing that vulnerable groups are more susceptible to misinformation meant to discourage their participation. Facebook says it’s heard their concerns.
“We must do our part to ensure an accurate census count, which is critical for the distribution of federal funds, the apportioning of electoral representatives and the functioning of a democracy,” the company wrote.