Facebook will ban ads that present races or religions as threats

56th Munich Security Conference Photo by Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook is placing new restrictions on hateful content in ads, explicitly banning ads that encourage racial divisions. Specifically, the new policy will “prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.” The policy will also restrict ads that express contempt for immigrants or refugees.

Notably, the new restrictions apply only to advertisements and will not affect posts without paid promotion.

“Facebook stands for giving people a voice, and that especially means people who have previously not had as much voice, or as much power to share their own experiences,” Zuckerberg said in a company town hall announcing the changes. “It’s really important that we make sure our platforms live up to these principles.”

The restrictions are part of a suite of changes Facebook is making in advance of the 2020 US elections. The company also plans to proactively monitor information on voting conditions in the 72 hours immediately before an election, with stricter standards for posts that appear to intimidate or mislead during that period of time. Posts involving the election will include an automatic link to the company’s new Voting Information Center, which is meant to provide authoritative information on the elections. The Voting Information Center will also be prominently featured in the Facebook and Instagram apps.

Facebook also announced a new protocol for when a post violates site policies but is allowed to remain on the site because of its public interest value. Under the new system, Facebook will label the content as subject to a newsworthiness exception, something that Zuckerberg says happens “a handful of times a year.”

The changes come amid an ongoing boycott led by Color of Change, calling for advertisers to halt spending on Facebook in response to the company’s perceived inability to moderate hate speech. Major corporations like Unilever and Verizon have joined the boycott, canceling all planned ad buys through the end of the year.

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