“Today, almost a year out from the 2020 elections in the US, we’re announcing several new measures to help protect the democratic process and providing an update on initiatives already underway”, announced Facebook.
Some of the measures announced:
- Combating inauthentic behavior, including an updated policy;
- Protecting the accounts of candidates, elected officials, their teams and others through Facebook Protect.
Facebook Protect entails offering “candidates, elected officials, federal and state departments and agencies, and party committees, as well as their staff, a way to further secure their accounts”. Indeed, the Facebook accounts of these people are considered very vulnerable because they are the object of frequent hacking attempts by malicious parties.
From now on, “Page admins can enrol their organization’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in Facebook Protect and invite members of their organization to participate in the program as well”.
Facebook other announcements include:
- The takedown of foreign influence campaigns, or what is called Inauthentic Behavior, in order to protect users from deception. Facebook says it has taken down over 50 networks worldwide in the past year alone.
- Making pages more transparent: give people more context on the Facebook Pages and makes it easier to understand who’s behind them.
- Labeling state-owned or controlled media organizations: help users better understand the sources of the news content so they are able to identify potential propaganda.
- New transparency features around political ad spend, including a U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker, more geographic spending details, info on which apps an ad appears on and programmatic access to downloads of political ad creative.
- Much more prominent fact-checking labels: add “False information” labels that categorize posts that have been debunked by the company’s fact-checkers.
- Fighting voter suppression and intimidation: ban ads that suggest it’s useless to vote, provide inaccurate polling or voter eligibility information or threaten people if they vote.
- Investment in media literacy projects: help users to better understand what they see online and develop new methods of educating people to understand political social media and ads.
However, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not social media platforms should permit falsehood in political advertising. And some of the measures announced by Facebook may seem at odds with its stated desire to let politicians lie in ads.
“And while I certainly worry about an erosion of truth, I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judged to be 100 percent true”, Mark Zuckerberg said during a speech at Georgetown University on October 17th, 2019. And this is a continuation of the company’s “we’re a platform, not a publisher” line.
It is worth remembering that Zuckerberg, after the 2016 election, didn’t believe that disinformation campaigns on Facebook had an impact on the election.