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Facebook launches new election efforts, will expand labels for posts on voting

Facebook launches new election efforts, will expand labels for posts on voting
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Facebook on Thursday introduced a slate of new tools and policies surrounding the upcoming 2020 election, including an election center that the company is describing as a "one-stop-shop" for information about voting. 

The new policies include an expansion of one rolled out last month that attached labels to posts from politicians about voting. For example, a post from President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE in late July about mail-in voting featured a label directing people to usa.gov/voting, which contained basic information about elections. 

The label will be featured more broadly starting Thursday, with an addendum expected to appear on U.S. Instagram and Facebook users' posts about voting, the company said in a blog post.

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The labels are a supplement to the Voting Information Center on Facebook, a new section on Facebook and Instagram with the stated goal of helping users register to vote. Facebook earlier this year announced an initiative to help at least 4 million voters register this year. The information center will assist this effort by directing users to state websites offering registration, the company said. 

It will also include information from state election officials and other nonpartisan civic organizations about developments on matters such as mail-in voting, which is expected to play a much greater role this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. In wake of concerns about the number of available poll workers this year, the platform is also including a "call" for signups in the center.

The efforts come as Facebook and other social media platforms come under increasing scrutiny about how they're handling misinformation surrounding this year's elections.

Facebook has faced significant criticism from Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups over its policies, which are generally more lenient than others when it comes to the promotion of unsubstantiated posts from politicians. Some, including Joe BidenJoe BidenFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE's Democratic presidential campaign, have demanded the company reverse its policy exempting political ads from fact-checking.

Facebook said in a blog post that it is "actively speaking with election officials about the potential of misinformation around election results as an emerging threat."

"A prolonged ballot process has the potential to be exploited in order to sow distrust in the election outcome," the company said, referring to the expansion of mail-in voting and the likelihood that results may not come on election night. "One way we plan to fight this is by using the Voting Information Center and the US Elections digest in Facebook News to make sure people have easy access to the latest, authoritative information and news on and after Election Night." 

The initiatives were rolled out just a day after several tech companies, including Google, Twitter, Reddit and Microsoft, issued a statement on their "ongoing election security collaboration." Company representatives met with U.S. government agencies this week to provide updates about trends on their platform surrounding the election, the joint statement said.