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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Zuckerberg Donates Additional $100 Million To Support Election Efforts While Facebook Accused Of Spreading More Misinformation

Topline

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would donate $100 million to go toward improving the safety and efficiency of voting sites throughout the U.S. after giving an initial $300 million last month, all while Facebook continues to be accused of enabling the spread of misinformation on the social media platform.

Key Facts

The $100 million will go toward the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a Chicago-based nonprofit that offers grants for jurisdictions like cities and counties to apply for to help support their elections.

Zuckerberg said he and Chan’s donation ($250 million went toward the CTCL, and the other $50 million was donated to the Center for Election Innovation & Research) in September was “to support election officials with the infrastructure they need to administer the vote.”

That includes funds to purchase voting equipment, personal protective gear (like face masks) for poll workers and money to hire additional workers to run voting sites.

According to Zuckerberg, after their first donation they saw “a far greater response than we expected from election officials needing funding for voting infrastructure,” so he and Chan decided to give an additional $100 million to the CTCL.

While he says lawsuits have been filed to block jurisdictions from using the money from the center based on allegations of bipartisanship, Zuckerberg denied the claims, writing that the “funds will serve communities throughout the country–urban, rural and suburban–and are being allocated by non-partisan organizations.”

Crucial Quote

“Voting is the foundation of democracy. It’s how we express our voice and make sure our country is heading in the direction we want, Zuckerberg wrote Tuesday. “Priscilla and I remain determined to ensure that every state and local election jurisdiction has the resources they need so Americans can vote.”

Tangent

Zuckerberg thinks it’s the government’s job to do what he and Chan are doing in supporting election infrastructure. “I agree with those who say that the government should have provided these funds, not private citizens. I hope that for future elections the government provides adequate funding. But absent that funding, I think it’s critical that this urgent need is met,” he wrote.

Key Background

Facebook has been on a mission to improve its reputation as a platform for conspiracy theories, hate speech and misinformation after facing criticism. A study released this week found far more Facebook users are engaging with content from news outlets “that repeatedly publish verifiably false content,” than in 2016, during the last presidential election. Late last month, Facebook announced it had helped recruit 100,000 poll workers for the upcoming election thanks to an alert on the platform’s mobile app. Earlier this month, Facebook announced it would ban political ads that “delegitimize” elections by spreading false information about the electoral process, like that voting by mail is vulnerable to widespread fraud, for example.

Further Reading

Biden Campaign Slams Zuckerberg For Letting Trump ‘Sow Distrust In Our Democracy’ (Forbes)

Facebook Says It Helped Recruit 100,000 Poll Workers (Forbes)

Facebook Users Interacting With Misinformation Way More Now Than In 2016, Study Finds (Forbes)

Facebook Bans Political Ads Seeking To ‘Delegitimize’ U.S. Election (Forbes)

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