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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently sees disinformation as a growth industry.

The tech giant recently announced it would not ban false political advertising, or disallow ad targeting that could fuel discrimination or racism and generally create even bigger divides in the American electorate.

Facebook, a company with great power to influence the next election and American democracy, is shirking its social responsibility.

Google has agreed to prohibit ads making false claims and so-called "deepfake" videos that mislead through doctoring images or using a real image attached to a completely different story. The company will also prohibit "demonstrably false" political claims that could influence voter trust in an election.

The company will also limit targeting of ads to broad categories like state, gender or zip code. It won't allow advertisers to target, for example, people who voted a certain way.

Twitter has completely banned all political advertising. Hurrah for them. We continue to believe 90 percent of political advertising on social media is either false, grossly misleading or, at a minimum, ignores significant facts.

Google will also now require political advertising to reveal the sponsor of the ad with not only specific federal candidates but also with state candidates and ballot measures.

Facebook, meanwhile, will allow false ads, false claims and false reality. It will not fact-check ads. It will not limit their distribution or targeting.

Zuckerberg argues Facebook policies defend political speech and people should be able to hear from those who want to "lead" them, "warts and all." There are plenty politicians and groups who have "warts" and who would rather deceive than lead.

Limiting false advertising would cost Facebook millions of dollars. But allowing the ads will also deplete its stockpile of social capital and good will among just-thinking people.

Botton line: Don't trust much of the political advertising on Facebook. Google and Twitter will be better bets. And, of course, established news media has the most stringent controls on falsity in advertising.

Political news consumers should vote with their feet and walk away from Facebook.

-- Mankato (Minn.) Free Press

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