Misleading Census Info Prohibited By Facebook

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has rolled out a new census interference policy in a blog post that includes new guidelines for advertisers that are stiffer than its general political advertising policy. Beginning next month, Facebook will enforce new standards that prohibit misrepresentation of how to participate in the census or the law enforcement risks for participating. The new policy also bans calls for coordinated interference with others’ participation in the census.

The new policy applies to anyone on Facebook’s platform, including politicians. Advertisers seeking to run census-related ads will have to complete a more robust authorization process and include a disclaimer on who paid for the ad. Census-related ads will be saved for at least seven years in Facebook’s public Ad Library.

Facebook is also planning to monitor posts and ads that contain inaccurate statements about the census without explicitly violating the company’s policies. Users may see labels over certain content determined to be “false” by independent fact-checkers.

The census is a critical, once-in-a-decade process that determines political representation. It is basically a constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S. This count will begin across the country in mid-March, after officially launching in Alaska in January. The Census Bureau has been trying to prepare for a potential onslaught of disinformation about the process in the coming months.