Here's What to Do If You Want Less Politics on Your Facebook Feed
Facebook just announced a feature that will let users opt out of all political ads.
Considering the nonstop barrage of news that's dominated 2020, it's difficult to forget that we have a presidential election coming up later this year—even when you might want to. As social media has become a hugely important space for campaigns, your feed is prime real estate for candidates. But Facebook just announced a feature that will limit the amount of politics you see whenever you log in. While the company can't stop your friends and family posting about (mostly) whatever they like, you will soon be able to block political ads on Facebook.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the feature on Tuesday in an op-ed he wrote for USA Today. "For those of you who've already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you—so we're also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads," he writes in the piece, which is largely about the social media company's voter registration and information campaign.
"We're creating a new Voting Information Center with authoritative information, including how and when to vote, as well as details about voter registration, voting by mail and information about early voting," Zuckerberg writes. "We'll also include posts from state election officials and verified local election authorities. We'll show this center at the top of the Facebook News Feed and on Instagram to make sure everyone gets a chance to see it."
So how and when can you turn off political ads on Facebook? According to CNBC, Facebook confirmed that some users already have the option as of this week. It will be rolled out to all users over an undefined period of time after that.
To "turn off" those ads, you'll interact with them the same way you do other ads you prefer not to see. When you see a promoted post or ad on your feed, click the three dots in the upper righthand corner. Then, you'll see a menu of options, including "Hide Ad" and "Report Ad." When it's a political ad, "there will be an option within the ad to turn off all future political ads," CNBC reports. "Users can also head to the settings features of Facebook and Instagram to turn them off. In addition, users who have decided to turn these ads off can report any ads they come across that they believe should not have been shown to them."
To change your Facebook advertising preferences in general at any time, you can point your browser to facebook.com/ads/preferences. Keep in mind, however, that you may not be one of the users who has the political ad feature right now.
And, as referenced above, Facebook owns Instagram, so the feature will be rolled out on that application as well. The company has not announced that timeline yet, however.
As for what Facebook deems a political ad, CNBC confirmed that the umbrella also covers "electoral and social issue ads from political candidates, Super PACs," and any other group that uses the "Paid for by…" language you hear on political ads on TV.
This announcement arrives amid ongoing criticism of Facebook's decision to not remove political ads that contain factually incorrect information. In his op-ed, Zuckerberg seemingly defends that position, saying, "We have rules against speech that will cause imminent physical harm or suppress voting, and no one is exempt from them. But accountability only works if we can see what those seeking our votes are saying, even if we viscerally dislike what they say." He does, however, claim that Facebook is more prepared to combat "election interference" from foreign accounts.
Either way, Facebook is now giving users the option to keep their feeds clear of political advertisements from all sides. Whether or not the feature becomes a permanent fixture on the platform is yet to be seen. And for more peace of mind, here are 30 Social Media Lies Everyone Tells on Facebook and Instagram.