Facebook has started adding informational labels to all posts about voting by federal elected officials and candidates in the US, as it said it would do. But the move appears to be sowing confusion rather than dispelling it.
The intention, as Facebook laid it out in late June, was to provide links to unbiased information about when and how to vote on election-related posts. Instead, though, they’re being misinterpreted — in some cases as an endorsement of misleading or false claims.
“There is inherently no problem with Facebook deciding to add labels to all posts about elections and voting,” said Nina Brown, a professor at Syracuse University who studies misinformation. But Facebook “missed the opportunity to do so in a clear and meaningful way.”
When it announced the rollout of the labels last week, Facebook said they are not a judgment “of whether the posts themselves are accurate, but we want people to have access to authoritative information either way.”
“Facebook is so reluctant to be seen as weighing in on an issue or as favoring one politician or another,” she said. “So instead of just false posts, it will label all posts. But social media users are not used to seeing flags on content that is not problematic.”
Further adding to the confusion, Facebook also announced in June that it will start labeling all “newsworthy” posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from Trump. But that’s a different label, not the one on election posts.