Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, says its election-related policies focus on “preventing interference, fighting misinformation, and increasing transparency.” Prohibited content includes:
- Posts containing false or misleading information about election dates, locations, times, or eligibility;
- Posts that feature false or misleading information about the methods of voting or whether a vote will be counted;
- Misleading posts about whether a candidate is running; and
- Coordinated calls for voter/elections interference.
Prohibited content may be removed, designated for “reduced” distribution into users’ newsfeeds, or labeled with additional information, likely by third-party fact checkers. Meta policies on misinformation indicate that content that produces risk of immediate physical harm or interference in electoral processes is more likely to be removed altogether, whereas content containing general misinformation and disinformation is more likely to be limited in its distribution across the platform and subject to fact-checking labels. Posts that violate Meta policies may sometimes remain accessible if the company determines “the public interest outweighs the risk of harm,” though Meta states that posts promoting violence or suppressing voting are not considered for this exemption.
Exemptions for Politicians
Meta exempts posts and ads by politicians from its third-party fact-checking program. This policy covers statements, photos, videos, and other content labeled as part of a politician’s platform or campaign. Meta defines “politician” as anyone running for or currently holding elected office, cabinet appointees, political parties, and political party leaders.
Meta policies prohibit politicians from posting misinformation on where, when, or how to vote and content inciting violence, but Meta does not subject direct posts from politicians to the same fact-checking process applied to other content. However, if a politician shares content produced by others that has been found to be false by a third-party fact-checker (e.g., a link to an article containing false claims), Meta will label it with a fact-check and limit its spread. Meta also claims it will “label content from politicians that might violate our policies,” but may allow the offending content to remain on the platform “for public awareness.” Former candidates and former officials are subject to regular fact-checking policies.
If a political candidate claims to have won an election before it is officially called by reputable media outlets, Meta will add a label to their post to state that vote counting is ongoing and no winner has emerged. If a candidate contests the declared winner of an election, a label will be added with the name of the winning candidate. Both labels include links to the company’s “Voting Information Center,” which includes detailed information about elections.
Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, Meta reinstated Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Instagram and Facebook. Trump was reinstated after his 2-year suspension for incitement ahead of January 6 expired. Kennedy, who was suspended in August 2022 for COVID-19 misinformation, was reinstated as he is now an active candidate for the 2024 presidential election. It is unclear whether Meta plans to re-suspend him if he drops out of or loses the race.