Some significant changes are coming to Facebook. On Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that it would let users turn off seeing political ads, per PEOPLE. This decision comes after the company has faced a great deal of criticism for showing a variety of political ads, including ones that have contained lies or false information.
Apparently, this new update regarding advertisements is a part of a larger voting initiative for Facebook. In an op-ed for USA Today, published on Tuesday, Zuckerberg outlined exactly how this policy is a part of Facebook's campaign to help give a boost to voter registration and turnout. The CEO wrote, “With so much of our discourse taking place online, I believe platforms like Facebook can play a positive role in this election by helping Americans use their voice where it matters most — by voting." He went on to share that Facebook's goal is to help four million Americans register to vote in the months leading up to the November general election.
Not only did Zuckerberg (and Facebook) share that disabling the appearance of political ads is a part of this new initiative, they also shared another major update for the social media site. He revealed that Facebook will launch a "Voting Information Center" on both Facebook and Instagram that will help provide information on when and how to vote in addition to details about voter registration, voting by mail, and information about early voting. In reference to the company's Voting Information Center, Zuckerberg wrote, "This work is sorely needed: We surveyed adults in the United States, and more than half said they believe people will need more information on how to vote in November than in previous elections. Our efforts should help everyone who uses our platform access reliable voting information, not just communities where participation is already high."
In his op-ed, Zuckerberg also acknowledged that Facebook has “a responsibility to protect the integrity of the vote itself,” which serves as a reference to the company's track record of identifying foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election. As a result, he shared that the company has invested a great deal of money into making sure that their systems are advanced enough to safeguard against any future interference. He ended his piece by writing that, with all of these policy changes and updates, Facebook is "supporting and strengthening our democracy in 2020 and beyond." He added, "And for those of you who've already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you — so we're also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads. We'll still remind you to vote."