efe-epaSan Francisco, United States

Facebook announced Sunday that it will ban ads on its platform that tell people in the United States not to vote, something it claimed happened during the 2016 presidential elections as part of a tactic to influence the polls.

In the second update of its Civil Rights Audit, the Menlo Park-based company said it is developing this new company policy and specified that the ban would be applied to advertisements and would not, in principle, affect user comments.

"Learning from past efforts to misuse our platform for voter suppression, we're also now working on a policy to prohibit targeted ads encouraging people not to vote," the world's most-used social network said in its report.

The company run by Mark Zuckerberg already has been removing content that it believes have been created to confuse citizens or spread false information about voting dates and locations, and with this ban it seeks to avoid campaigns that encourage abstention between certain groups.

The company's most immediate target is the 2020 US presidential elections in which President Donald Trump will fight for a second term and which are expected to be particularly tense.

Facebook has been the focus of much debate for months about what role it should take as a regulator of content shared on its platform and especially on how it should fight the spread of fake news, which in recent years have influenced political and social spheres of several countries.

The company has been mired in controversy owing to several scandals related to its management of the user data privacy, something which considerably tarnished its public image and may even lead to a multimillion-dollar penalty.

Facebook's biggest controversy came in March 2018, when it was found that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica used an app to harvest the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent and with political ends.

The company used the data to form profiles of voters, which they allegedly sold to the campaign of President Trump during the 2016 election, among others.

arc/sp/tw