Facebook's Plan if Donald Trump or Joe Biden Declares Early Election Victory

Facebook will use warning labels if any U.S. political candidate or party declares early victory in the 2020 presidential election.

The Mark Zuckerberg-led social network has pledged to add "more specific information" to posts in question and in "top-of-feed notifications," releasing an image that showed what the labels will look like for its users on Facebook and Instagram.

It will read: "Votes are being counted. The winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election has not been projected."

On Facebook, a link will redirect users to legitimate updates, including latest results, being shown in the app's Voting Information Center.

Facebook said it will remove content that attempts to "suppress participation, intimidate voters, or organize to do so," and would be hunting for such issues in real-time.

Communication executive Andy Stone confirmed in a tweet the website will wait for the election race to be called by National Election Pool/Edison via Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) alongside "six independent decision desks at major media outlets."

If a presidential candidate or party declares premature victory, we will add more specific information in the labels on candidate posts, add more specific information in the top-of-feed notifications and continue showing the latest results in our Voting Information Center. pic.twitter.com/PBpWQFhlos

— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) November 3, 2020

The platform's policy reiteration comes after multiple sources told Axios that President Donald Trump had told "confidants" that he would declare early victory if results appeared to indicate he was ahead as initial voting results rolled out on Tuesday night.

Trump denied that claim Sunday, but added that his team would be "going in with our lawyers" on the night of the election, seemingly before all ballots are counted.

The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis means more Americans will be using mail-in voting, which Trump has claimed, without evidence, is open to manipulation and fraud. It has been suggested Trump's team will use delays as an example of election fraud.

Guy Rosen, Facebook's Vice President of Integrity, unveiled a policy about early declarations in a blog post last month, saying that the site was expecting final election results to take longer than prior votes due to the pandemic and "more people voting by mail."

"If a candidate or party declares premature victory before a race is called by major media outlets, we will add more specific information in the notifications that counting is still in progress and no winner has been determined," he wrote.

"If the candidate that is declared the winner by major media outlets is contested by another candidate or party, we will show the name of the declared winning candidate with notifications at the top of Facebook and Instagram, as well as label posts from candidates, with the declared winner's name and a link to the Voting Center."

Facebook is not alone, with social network Twitter this week reaffirming a commitment that any tweets falsely claiming a win would be violating its civic integrity policy.

"People on Twitter, including candidates for office, may not claim an election win before it is authoritatively called," executives said in a blog, updated yesterday.

"To determine results of an election in the U.S., we require either an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent election calls. Tweets which include premature claims will be labeled and direct people to our official U.S. election page."

As tech and social media firms are bracing for impact, their executives appear well aware that the 2020 election is likely to be more turbulent than ever before.

Zuckerberg himself said in September that there could be "increased risk of civil unrest across the country" as the votes come in. "This election is not going to be business as usual," he said. "We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy."

Mark Zuckerberg
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg appears on a monitor as he testifies remotely during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, October 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty