Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are donating $300 million to protect election and enhance access to voting in the U.S.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life and The Center for Election & Innovation Research, organizations that work towards improving the voting process, released a statement Tuesday, explaining that the donation will “promote safe and reliable voting in states and localities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Many counties and states are strapped financially and working to determine how to staff and fund operations that will allow for ballots to be cast and counted in a timely way,” Zuckerberg and Chan said in a statement. These donations will help to provide local and state officials across the country with the resources, training, and infrastructure necessary to ensure that every voter who intends to cast a ballot is able to, and ultimately, to preserve the integrity of our elections,” they added.
Facebook has faced strong criticism for failing to restrict false pieces of information about the election and voting on its platform. Aside from that, the company has been slammed several times for allowing politicians to run their false ads.
Zuckerberg has defended the company’s stance and argued in fall 2019 that restricting political ads would not prove to be a good idea. In May, President Donald Trump posted shreds of misleading information about mail-in voting on Facebook and the social network giant refused to take action on the posts.
Twitter, on the other hand, flagged several of the president’s tweets about mail-in voting as potentially misleading. In addition to that, Twitter placed a public interest notice on some of his tweets for violating its policy against abusive behavior.
“We don’t believe that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” the former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom and now a Facebook vice president Nick Clegg wrote in a blog post last year.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher told CNN that the company is particularly focused on Trump’s baseless attempts to discredit mail-in-voting. Keeping in line with that, Facebook vowed to come up with new steps to identify state-run media for users and to offer improved protection to the accounts of officials and political candidates in a bid to restrict its platform from being used to interfere with the impending elections in the United States.
Earlier this year, Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth attributed Trump’s win in the 2016 presidential election to his campaign’s use of Facebook’s advertising tools. The company’s political advertising platform, he said, “very well may lead to the same result” in 2020.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life will use a $300 million donation to “re-grant funds to local election jurisdictions across the country to help ensure that they have the staffing, training, and equipment necessary” to make sure that the voters can participate in the election in a “safe and timely way.”
The Center for Election Innovation & Research will use the money to “assist state and local election officials to ensure elections are secure, voters have confidence in election outcomes, and democracy thrives as civic engagement grows,” according to the press release. The Center for Election Innovation & Research David Becker said the donation will assist election officials in their attempt to inform voters about their voting options and any changes.