Facebook to remove 'militarized' calls for unauthorized poll watchers

This photo illustration taken on March 22, 2018 shows apps for Facebook and other social networks on a smartphone in Chennai, India

Facebook said Wednesday it will now remove content that urges Americans to report to the polls as unauthorized poll watchers if that content uses "militarized language" or when the intent behind the posts is to intimidate voters.

Posts that use the word "army" or "battle" or that are implicitly threatening would fall under the ban, said Monika Bickert, Facebook's vice president of content policy, on a call with reporters.

The new policy comes after Donald Trump Jr. posted a video online last month urging supporters to "join [an] army for Trump's election security." At the time, Facebook and Twitter applied contextual labels to the video pointing to accurate information about voting, but neither company said the video was eligible for removal under their content guidelines.

Bickert confirmed that under the new policy, Trump's video would be removed if it were posted again. Existing copies of the video posted to Facebook will be unaffected by the rule.

"We are training our teams in applying those policies, and it'll be my team looking at that content as we make those decisions," Bickert said.

Facebook also said it will temporarily halt political ads on its platform after polls close on Election Day. The restrictions will also apply to political ads that began running prior to Election Day.

"After the polls close on Nov. 3, we're going to stop running all political and issues ads to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse," said Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity.

The decision follows a similar move by Google weeks ago. It is unclear how long the moratorium could last.

Tech companies have come under mounting pressure and criticism surrounding their preparations for an uncertain or contested election outcome. Experts have repeatedly warned that final election results may not be known for weeks or days, while President Donald Trump and his allies have issued inflammatory rhetoric about the voting process.

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