Facebook announced that it intends to ban content that misrepresents the 2020 census in hopes of preempting efforts to deter people from filling it out.
The company announced the creation of a dedicated task force that will ban users intentionally spreading false information, both regarding the census and upcoming election. According to Bloomberg, the policy was was one of many changes announced in an interim report on its multi-year civil rights audit:
“An accurate census count is crucial to governments for functions like distributing federal funds and to businesses and researchers,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post. “That’s why we’re going to treat next year’s census like an election — with people, policies, and technology in place to protect against census interference.”
Facebook and other tech giants have faced enormous backlash from civil rights groups for their failure to stop the spread of false information. The platform reports that in the first quarter, it’s removed 2.2 billion fake accounts and taken down 65 percent of hate speech content.
“The census is a constitutional requirement that serves as the foundation for allocating federal benefits and electoral representation,” Laura Murphy, a civil rights attorney who is leading Facebook’s audit, wrote in the report.
“The significance of the census, coupled with the historical undercounting of certain groups, including Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other communities of color, immigrants, and people who are incarcerated, reinforces why the census is a critical focus area.”
Facebook says it will follow the report’s recommendations and roll out additional policies in the coming months, including forbidding ads urging people not to vote, restriction on how housing, credit and job advertisers target users, the policy banning content that misrepresents the census, and other measures.