Facebook FB is considering banning political advertising across its network before the U.S. presidential election slated for Nov 3, having faced intense pressure for allowing hate speech and misinformation to flourish across its social platform, per a Bloomberg report.
The potential ban is only being discussed and has not been finalized. While the ban would prevent voter suppression and election-related misinformation from spreading on the platform, concerns about how it could potentially limit the spread of positive and useful information in the process, such as Get Out to Vote campaigns, requires attention.
A recent internal civil rights audit of Facebook’s policies advised stronger interpretation and enforcement of its voter suppression policies as well as more resources geared toward addressing organized hate and discrimination on the platform.
Facebook, Inc. Price and Consensus
Facebook, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Facebook, Inc. Quote
Facebook Faces Boycott Standoff
Although removal of voting related misleading ads is expected to help Facebook in sustaining momentum, it is likely to hurt ad revenues to some extent.
The #StopHateForProfit campaign, run by top civil rights groups, has encouraged major companies like Microsoft, Unilever, Ford, Adidas and Pfizer to pull advertising from Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram until the social media platform addresses concerns over voter suppression and the spread of misinformation.
This was followed by Facebook’s swift announcement of new content policies for the social platform, including tighter restrictions on advertising and labels for harmful posts from public figures as advertisement revenues are a major contributor to its top line. Notably, advertisement accounted for 98.5% of $70.7 billion revenues generated in 2019.
With concerned advertisers' pulling out from its platform, Facebook will begin labeling content from elected officials that it deems newsworthy but that would otherwise violate its policies. The content will be allowed to remain on its platform as long as public interest value outweighs the risk of harm.
Additionally, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company is creating a new Voting Information Center that will appear at the top of News Feed and Instagram’s feed, directing users to information on how and where to vote, including information on how to register to vote and how to vote by mail. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
The Voting Information Center will also contain links to posts that discuss voting, including posts from politicians in an attempt to share authoritative information and as part of an effort to get four million people to register to vote in the 2020 U.S. elections.
We believe these efforts are expected to bolster the company’s brand value and trustworthiness.
Facebook to Follow Twitter’s Footsteps
Apart from Facebook, tech companies like Twitter TWTR, Alphabet GOOGL owned Google and Snap SNAP are leaving no stone unturned to curb misinformation and fake news.
Twitter has already flagged a couple of controversial tweets while Facebook faces widespread criticism for its inaction over Trump’s posts that glorified violence in the aftermath of the death of African-American George Floyd.
In November 2019, Twitter rolled out guidelines restricting political content on its platform ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. The company has since prohibited ads related to elections, candidates, parties and other political content on its social platform. The ads also cannot mention specific legislations. (Read more: Twitter Rolls Out Political Ads Policy Ahead of Ban)
Twitter’s initial announcement of its political ads ban came hot on the heels of the public outcry over Facebook’s prior policy to not fact check political statements or remove politicians’ posts, which, it believed to be newsworthy, irrespective of the fact that the content may violate its “community standards”.
Last month, Google eliminated ads, which were misleading users searching for voting related information. Reportedly, users searching with terms like register to vote, vote by mail and other related terms were getting directed to ads that charged them huge fees especially the ones providing registration information. (Read more: Google Curbs Fake Info by Removing Misleading Voting Ads)
Further, some of the misleading ads were also tracking personal data of users, which was a cause of concern.
However, Snap allows political advertising unless the ads are misleading, deceptive or violate the terms of service on Snapchat. The company defines political ads as including election-related, advocacy and issue ads.
Today's Best Stocks from Zacks
Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2019, while the S&P 500 gained and impressive +53.6%, five of our strategies returned +65.8%, +97.1%, +118.0%, +175.7% and even +186.7%.
This outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. From 2000 – 2019, while the S&P averaged +6.0% per year, our top strategies averaged up to +54.7% per year.
See their latest picks free >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Facebook, Inc. (FB) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Snap Inc. (SNAP) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research