Last week, Facebook announced a new policy that specifically bans posts and advertisements that include misleading information about where and when to participate in next year's census and the consequences of participating.  The new policy also prohibits advertisements that "portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census."  

Specifically, Facebook's new policy will prohibit: 

  • Misrepresentation of the dates, locations, times and methods for census participation;
  • Misrepresentation of who can participate in the census and what information and/or materials must be provided in order to participate;
  • Content stating that census participation may or will result in law enforcement consequences; 
  • Misrepresentation of government involvement in the census, including that an individual’s census information will be shared with another government agency; and 
  • Calls for coordinated interference that would affect an individual’s ability to participate in the census, enforcement of which often requires additional information and context.

Facebook said that it will begin enforcing this policy in January.  Facebook also indicated that advertisements by politicians will also have to comply with the policy.    

In a statement, Kevin Martin, VP of US Public Policy, and Samidh Chakrabarti, Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement, said, "We must do our part to ensure an accurate census count, which is critical for the distribution of federal funds, the apportioning of electoral representatives and the functioning of a democracy."