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Facebook Announces Restrictions on Political Content

FILE - The logo for social media giant Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018.

Facebook announced new regulations Tuesday that prevent U.S. publishers with demonstrated ties to political groups from running advertisements that look like news reports on the social networking site.

Facebook has been under pressure to manage disinformation appearing on its pages during the coronavirus pandemic and as the country prepares to vote for president in November.

The rules announced Tuesday permit publishers with political connections to register with the site, but they will be excluded from using Facebook’s “news” page for their messages.

“The news pages with these affiliations will not be eligible for inclusion in Facebook News,” the social media giant said.

Previously, such organizations were labeled “news exempt,” meaning that their content was not labeled as political.

Facebook defines a “political entity” as "an organization, company, or other group whose predominant purpose is to influence politics and elections,” such as political action groups and organizations designated as social welfare organizations by the Internal Revenue Service.

A “political person” includes candidates for public office, those whose positions are subject to legislative confirmation, such as Supreme Court justices and others, who possess the authority to enforce political power.

The Columbia Journalism Review published a report Tuesday outlining “new networks of shadowy, politically backed ‘local news websites,’” distributing domestic and internationally-sourced disinformation surrounding the U.S. election.

Several tech companies have cracked down on political exploitation of their platforms in recent weeks. Google recently told media company Axios it was planning to implement a similar ban in September, and Twitter temporarily suspended the account of the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., in July after he promoted the drug hydroxychloriquine as a treatment for coronavirus. Hydroxychloriquine’s efficacy in treating COVID-19 has been dismissed by medical experts after several clinical trials.