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Facebook’s Zuckerberg says ‘there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,’ site will warn of premature election victory claims

Social networker says it will post warnings if candidates claim victory prematurely.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Senior Contributing Writer

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts on a conference call Thursday evening that the company plans to post notices at the top of users' news feeds on November 3rd discrediting any claims by either candidate in the U.S. presidential election that they have won the election if the site deems the claim premature.

"If any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the final results are called, we will put a notification to the top of People's Facebook and Instagram feed letting them know the results aren't final yet and we'll put an informational label on the candidate's post," said Zuckerberg.

The move, said Zuckerberg, is being made because "There is a risk of civil unrest across the country, and given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we've done before."

The conference call with analysts followed a third-quarter earnings report Thursday afternoon in which Facebook's results topped expectations, helped by gains in active users that also were higher than Wall Street expected.

Zuckerberg said Facebook "helped 4.4 million people register [to vote] exceeding the goal that we set for ourselves this summer."

The company has also refused to take new political ads this week, Zuckerberg noted. "We're doing this because while I generally believe that the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, in the final days of an election, there may simply not be enough time to contest new claims."

Despite Facebook's upbeat results, competitors in the online advertising market may have benefitted last quarter from some large advertisers boycotting Facebook during the quarter. Picture sharing site Pinterest on Wednesday topped expectations, as did Twitter on Thursday

Analysts expect both companies were helped by some advertising dollars being withheld from Facebook and moved to the other networks instead.

More than 80 million U.S. voters have cast ballots in the president election, according to an estimate compiled by the University of Florida's U.S. Elections Project, Reuters noted on Thursday.

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