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Meta’s Warning of Political Fallout Following Decision on 2020 Election Denial

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Meta’s policy adjustments surrounding election-denial claims in political advertising have sparked controversy and internal debate. 

The company, formerly known as Facebook, faced a dilemma over allowing false claims of a stolen 2020 election amidst the run-up to the Republican midterm elections.

Internal discussions among Meta employees revealed concerns about potential repercussions if the company chose to ban political ads denying past election results. 

Some employees feared damaging Meta’s rapport with Republican officials and candidates who were vocally endorsing these baseless claims. 

Similarly, the public policy team, responsible for engaging with federal lawmakers, highlighted potential pushback from Democrats over restrictions on ads challenging the legitimacy of prior elections.

Despite observations that denial-of-election-result ads predominantly originated from right-wing sources on Meta-owned platforms, the company grappled with internal dissent regarding policy decisions. 

Employees expressed worry that the company’s considerations about its standing in Washington D.C. had overshadowed the substantial issues related to spreading misinformation.

Meta’s Controversial Decision

meta's-warning-of-political-fallout-following-decision-on-2020-election-denial
Meta’s policy adjustments surrounding election-denial claims in political advertising have sparked controversy and internal debate.

Eventually, Meta decided in the summer of 2022 to permit political advertisements featuring false claims of a rigged 2020 election on Instagram and Facebook. 

This policy allowed political advertisers to assert that past elections were fraudulently conducted but barred ads questioning the legitimacy of ongoing or future elections in the U.S., Brazil, Israel, and Italy.

The decision attracted criticism from within Meta. Some employees were concerned that permitting ads denying the 2020 election’s legitimacy could contribute to political violence, referencing the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. 

Additionally, doubts arose about how such denials might impact faith in ongoing or future election results.

Furthermore, Meta’s acceptance of payment for hosting 2020 election-denial content on its platforms intensified internal discord among employees. 

While the company announced the rejection of ads discouraging voting or questioning the legitimacy of future elections in August 2022, media coverage on Meta’s ad policy specific to the 2020 election remained limited, leaving room for ongoing scrutiny and debate within the company.

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