‘Risk of civil unrest’ around election

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company has been taking steps to address the increased risk of potential civil unrest associated with the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said on a call discussing Facebook’s third-quarter earnings. “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.”

Zuckerberg noted steps that Facebook has taken in response to this increased risk. This includes helping users register to vote, providing users with accurate information about the election, banning new political ads one week prior to the election, blocking ads that try to delegitimize the election results and banning problematic content, such as groups focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory and Holocaust denialism.

“This is not a shift in our underlying philosophy or strong support of free expression,” Zuckerberg said. “Instead it is a reflection of the increased risk of violence and unrest.”

Facebook is not alone in these concerns. Walmart on Thursday also removedguns and ammunition from sales floors in stores where those items had been displayed because of isolated incidents of “civil unrest” in some areas around the U.S.

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