Facebook and Instagram will have an option that allows users to disable the display of political ads. The feature will be available first in the United States and will be available in more countries in the fall.
Users of the social networks can block advertisements from political parties, organizations or candidates and advertisements on social topics if they are marked as such by Facebook. The company does this by displaying a ‘Paid by’ disclaimer with the relevant advertisements. Facebook has been doing that since last year, as part of rules to make political ads more transparent.
Facebook tells CNBC that the feature will be available to some users in the United States starting this week and should be available nationwide in the coming weeks. Facebook will also bring the feature to other countries where political advertising rules apply in the fall. Competitor Twitter already decided last year to no longer allow political advertisements. Facebook still does, but now gives users an option to block them themselves.
When the feature is active, users will see the option to disable political ads. You can also choose to disable all political advertisements. Both Facebook and Instagram will also get an option in the settings where users can block the ads.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the option’s arrival in an op-ed in USA Today. In that article, he reports that Facebook will inform users about how they can vote in the upcoming elections in the United States. Facebook and Instagram will have a Voting Information Center for this, explaining how people can register to vote.
In the article, Facebook says it has a responsibility to ensure that the elections are fair. The network admits that it did not respond quickly enough to foreign interference in the US election in 2016. Facebook now claims to have better systems for that. The company says it took down 50 networks with malicious accounts last year, and eighteen networks have been shut down this year.