Facebook has announced significant changes to its advertising and misinformation policies, saying it will stop running political ads in the United States after polls close on 3 November for an undetermined period of time.
The changes, announced Wednesday, come in an effort to “protect the integrity” of the upcoming election “by fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression”, the company said in a blog post.
Facebook’s chief executive, officer Mark Zuckerberg, had previously defended the controversial decision not to fact check political advertising on the platform, but in recent weeks Facebook has begun to remove political ads that feature dangerous and misleading claims.
In early September, the company pledged to stop running new political ads one week before 3 November, the day of the United States elections, to prevent last-minute misinformation. Now it will disallow political advertising entirely following election day “to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse”. The company did not say whether the previous ban on new ads remains, or give a timeline for if and when political advertising could return.
Although Donald Trump again promised in his video that a vaccine would come this year, that’s looking increasingly unlikely.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told coronavirus vaccine developers on Tuesday it wants at least two months of safety data before authorizing any emergency use, a requirement likely to push any US vaccine availability past the 3 November presidential election.
A senior administration official confirmed that the White House had approved the plan, which undercuts Donald Trump’s hopes of getting a vaccine before the majority of voters go to polls.
The president had been hinting at a rapid announcement on a successful vaccine in recent weeks despite the fact that a candidate has yet to emerge from clinical trials and there have been growing fears that political pressure on regulators could result in a compromised process and the undermining of public confidence in a vaccine.
The FDA on Tuesday released the guidance laying out more stringent recommendations for drugmakers hoping to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their experimental vaccines.
“Being open and clear about the circumstances under which the issuance of an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine would be appropriate and is critical to building public confidence and ensuring the use of COVID-19 vaccines once available,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA division responsible for approving vaccines, said in a statement.
There was a school of thought that Donald Trump might be humbled by becoming infected himself with the coronavirus, see the light and encourage Americans to stay safe. It lasted about as long as the hope that he would “pivot” to a traditional presidency after his inauguration.
Instead Trump has sought to project the strongman image, flying to the White House by helicopter at sunset, standing on the balcony and taking off his face mask while still contagious, bragging that he feels better than he did 20 years ago and urging the public to neither fear the virus nor let it dominate their lives.
His campaign has sent out fundraising emails preaching a similar if-I-can-beat-it-so-can-you-message, hoping to turn personal and political disaster to their electoral advantage against the cautious Joe Biden. It is very on-brand for a president who views illness as a weakness and seeks each day to make himself the hero of his own reality TV show.
“He’s operated in kind of cartoon icons his entire career, with iconic images and symbols of being a magnate, owning a football team, an airline, casinos, Mar-a-Lago,” said Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer. “All these symbols of unbelievable riches were really powerful – that was a very successful manoeuvre and he’s kept it up. So now these photo ops that look ridiculous and dangerous have a certain resonance. Of course he’ll keep doing that.
“Now he is going to be an ‘expert’: he’s had it so nobody can tell him anything. If he ever even paused for a second for any medical advice before, that’s over. He knows more about wars than the generals; he will now know more about the coronavirus than any doctors.”
Read the original article at The Guardian