Facebook will lift a ban on political advertising imposed after the US election to curb the spread of misinformation, and it has pledged to investigate whether its political advertising systems need further overhaul.
Advertisers could resume serving political ads on March 4th, Facebook said in a blog post on Wednesday. It said it had put in place the temporary moratorium "to avoid confusion or abuse after election day".
The social media company said it received "feedback" on its advertising system during the last election cycle, including an inability to differentiate, for example, between advertisements from politicians and political groups and advertisements on social issues from interest groups.
"For this reason we plan to use the coming months to examine the functionality of these ads in our service more closely and determine where further changes are appropriate," it said on Wednesday.
Mark Zuckerberg, the executive director of Facebook, has long resisted pressure to scrutinize political advertisements, arguing that it is not in the interests of freedom of expression and that private sector companies should not be the "arbiter of the truth."
However, under pressure from critics and an increase in election misinformation, the company rowed back to that tough position just before the November 3 vote, initially announcing that no new political ads would be able to run in the week leading up to the vote, plus one week blackout for political ads after the vote.
Facebook and Google, which had taken similar measures, later extended their bans when former US President Donald Trump sparked rioting after Joe Biden's victory by repeatedly promoting conspiracy theories and unproven claims of electoral fraud.
Facebook was frustrated with the ban on some political groups complaining that they couldn't raise funds or exchange messages.
Just hours before Facebook's announcement, two Democratic Party committees issued a joint statement accusing the company of "refusing to set a clear date for ending this misguided ban on political advertising".
"These ruthless and arbitrary policies have made it difficult for campaigns and organizations to provide accurate information to voters and deal with them in good faith, and in particular it has prevented color communities from fully engaging in the democratic process."
In December, Facebook temporarily lifted its ban on ads related to the Georgia Senate runoff election, despite previously telling critics that such a spin-off was not technically feasible. Google last week lifted its hiatus in political advertising for the second time after reintroducing it after the January 6th Capitol riot.
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