Facebook now gives the opportunity to its users to turn off all political ads, in the hopes of calming the heated debate about his approach is often considered too lax in terms of moderation of candidates for the elections.
The option is deployed from Wednesday in the United States, 5 months of the presidential election. It will be extended to other countries on the most popular network in the world, as well as on the application Instagram.
It allows you to block all ads paid for by candidates or political groups.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (Google) and their competitors are engaged in a struggle, at times schizophrenic, against the misinformation, since they must at the same time ensuring the freedom of expression and to remain open to political debates.
After the debacle of 2016, an election year marked by large-scale manipulation of the electorate via the networks, the platforms have taken measures, such as programs of fact-checking (fact checking).
This fall, Twitter has just banned advertisements of a political nature, and allows to intervene in case of violation of its rules, even if it is to punish heads of State, such as Jair Bolsonaro, or Donald Trump.
Facebook, for its part, authorises this type of ads, and refuses to submit to the remarks of the political figures in fact-checking (their messages remain subject to the general rules against terrorism, the glorification of violence or false practical information on the elections).
A bias that provokes the anger of some, including the democratic candidate for the White House Joe Biden, who accuses the u.s. president of the misinformation rampant.
“Everyone wants politicians to be held accountable for what they say, and I know a lot of people would like that we modérions and remove most of their content,” admitted Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Facebook, in an open letter published Tuesday evening on the website of USA Today.
“But we can’t hold them accountable that if we see what the candidates say, even if we hate viscerally to what they have to say”, he continued, according to his usual argument of the interest of the public to be informed.
The new option has not aroused the enthusiasm of the observers.
Adam Chiara, a specialist in social networks and the political, sees it as essentially a public relations operation that “does nothing to help rid the platform of the about toxic”.
“I’d be curious to know how many people will activate the option,” notes this professor at the University of Hartford.
“Many users do not change their settings protection of privacy by default, then how many will take the trouble to do that?”
Facebook “relocates” the moderation of content to its users, writes Shannon McGregor, a professor of political communication at the University of North Carolina.
This option is also a risk “to strengthen the advantage of the incumbents”, she added, because some of the ads allow candidates less covered by the media to make themselves known to voters.
“In the end, I think that the best way to be accountable to the politicians, it is by the vote,” said Mark Zuckerberg.
It has set its network the objective is to contribute to the entry of four million more Americans on the electoral lists for the presidential election in November and launched “the largest campaign of electoral information in american history”.
“Facebook has a responsibility, not only to prevent that it deprives people of the right to vote – a problem that disproportionately affects people of color, but also to actively support the registration and mobilisation of voters to be well informed”, he added.