Facebook is introducing a new advertising policy that prohibits ads that portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census.
Next year, all US households will be able to complete the US census online for the first time.
Facebook announced a new census interference policy that bans misleading information about when and how to participate in the census and the consequences of participating.
The company's census interference policy will prohibit:
- Misrepresentation of the dates, locations, times and methods for census participation;
- Misrepresentation of who can participate in the census and what information and/or materials must be provided in order to participate;
- Content stating that census participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences;
- Misrepresentation of government involvement in the census, including that an individual’s census information will be shared with another government agency; and
- Calls for coordinated interference that would affect an individual’s ability to participate in the census, enforcement of which often requires additional information and context.
Facebook will begin enforcement next month and use a combination of technology and people to proactively identify content that may violate this policy. And as with voter interference, content that violates Facebook's census interference policy will not be allowed to remain on the company's platforms as newsworthy even if posted by a politician.
Content that does not violate this policy, but may still be inaccurate, will be eligible for fact-checking by Facebook's third-party partners and, if rated false, will have more prominent labels and will be ranked lower in News Feed. Facebook also promises to fight against potential misinformation by sharing accurate, non-partisan information about how to participate in the census in consultation with the US Census Bureau.
Regarding advertising, Facebook's new advertising policy prohibits ads that portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census. In addition, ads about the census will be subject to the increased transparency requirements for issue ads. This means any advertiser who wants to run an ad about the census will have to complete Facebook's authorization process for ads about social issues, elections or politics and include a disclaimer on such ads so people know who paid for them. These ads will be saved in Facebook's Ad Library for at least seven years.
The census, which takes place once a decade, is expected to be largely filled out online for the first time in 2020.
Google has recently updated its policies here around census-related deception, including explicitly banning ads featuring incorrect information about how to participate.
Twitter currently bans false or misleading information about how to participate in civic events. The company said its political ads ban does not include ads about the census, but such ads are subject to restrictions on audience targeting.