Facebook has released information on a new set of initiatives it plans to adopt to protect the US 2020 elections. After being sued as a tool for election interference in both the US and other countries, the firm has taken steps to mitigate the possibility of being used in such a manner going forward.
The initiative can be grouped under three primary goals as per Facebook:
Fighting foreign interference
- Combating inauthentic behaviour, including an updated policy
- Protecting the accounts of candidates, elected officials, their teams and others through Facebook Protect
- Making Pages more transparent, including showing the confirmed owner of a Page
- Labelling state-controlled media on their Page and in our Ad Library
- Making it easier to understand political ads, including a new US presidential candidate spend tracker
- Preventing the spread of misinformation, including clearer fact-checking labels
- Fighting voter suppression and interference, including banning paid ads that suggest voting is useless or advise people not to vote
- Helping people better understand the information they see online, including an initial investment of $2 million to support media literacy projects
The firm’s page transparency and foreign interference takedowns have already been the subject o many stories. What’s new here is its policies towards misinformation. Facebook has already come under fire for allowing politicians to advertise flat out lies on its platform, so this blog post comes off as a little CYA in this regard. Regardless, the initiatives are a good one, on paper at least. For instance, for misinformation, Facebook will prominently label dubious content on both Facebook and Instagram as containing “False Information” for which users would have to click through.
Over the next month, content that has been rated “false” or “partly false” by an independent fact-checker will be more prominently labeled so you can better understand if information you’re seeing is reliable. pic.twitter.com/TPgOjL6HIK
— Instagram (@instagram) October 21, 2019
The firm will also be investing in digital literacy classes to help people understand social media better.
“These projects range from training programs to help ensure the largest Instagram accounts have the resources they need to reduce the spread of misinformation, to expanding a pilot program that brings together senior citizens and high school students to learn about online safety and media literacy, to public events in local venues like bookstores, community centres and libraries in cities across the country. We’re also supporting a series of training events focused on critical thinking among first-time voters,” Facebook said on Tuesday.