Facebook has begun adding informational labels to all posts about voting by federal elected officials and candidates in the US. The move, designed to reduce confusion, appears to be having the opposite effect.
The company added labels this week to posts by Donald Trump and Joe Biden, among others, advising readers to “get official voting info” and directing people to an information hub of authoritative sources like state and local election officials.
Facebook’s intention, announced last month, was to provide users with links to unbiased information about when and how to vote.
What’s been happening instead, however, is that the information is being misinterpreted by Facebook users and, in some cases, is being considered to be an endorsement of misleading or false claims.
On July 21, for example, Trump posted the following:
Facebook’s added label beneath the post says, “Get official voting info on how to vote in the 2020 US Election at usa.gov,” and the link directs users to the government website’s section for absentee and early voting and voting during the pandemic.
Facebook also labeled at least two of Biden’s posts including one in which he said he was putting “the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice” about interfering in U.S. elections:
Facebook said its purpose for the labels is not to judge “whether the posts themselves are accurate, but we want people to have access to authoritative information either way.”
Nina Brown, Professor at Communications at Syracuse University, told AP News that Facebook’s reluctance to pass judgment on misleading posts is a problem. “Facebook is so reluctant to be seen as weighing in on an issue or as favoring one politician or another. So instead of just false posts, it will label all posts. But social media users are not used to seeing flags on content.”
Professor Brown compared Facebook’s approach with the way Twitter has approached political and other content, which is to only append labels to posts that are false or misleading.
Facebook, in contrast, has “tried to act as this neutral arbiter,” Professor Brown said, adding that it may ultimately do more harm than good.
Source: Equities News