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Oct 15, 2018

Facebook bans misinformation on voting methods as it expands pre-midterm policy

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Facebook Inc. (FB.O), the world’s largest social network, said it’s banning misinformation on its platform about how people can vote or whether their vote will count, broadening its policies to prevent voter suppression ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.

Facebook’s previous rules already barred misinformation about places, times and locations for voting, the company said Monday in a blog post. The new policy would cover some other issues that came up during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Both Facebook and Twitter Inc. (TWTR.N) contended with viral online posts -- including from Russian propagandists -- saying that U.S. voters could submit their ballot choices via text message, for example. Those posts came under Congressional scrutiny.

Other types of voting suppression, like posts that falsely say polling places are closed or facing violence, would be handled by the company’s third-party fact-checkers and down-ranked in the news feed if they’re found to be false.

That’s an enormous task, considering how many thousands of polling places there are in the U.S. In order to handle it, Facebook has been developing direct lines of communication with the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors, which can communicate any problems on the ground to Facebook’s fact-checkers. The company is also letting users directly report instances of voter suppression when they see a post in their news feeds.

Reuters reported earlier Monday that Facebook was expanding its ban on false information about voting.