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Facebook Prepares to Tackle General Election Misinformation

Ross Kelly

,

Facebook Employees

Facebook hopes fact-checking service Full Fact will play a key role in stemming the spread of election misinformation. 

Facebook will implement new measures to prevent the spread of fake news and misinformation during the next UK general election, the company has confirmed.

Measures set to be launched include an extension to its current partnership with fact-checking service Full Fact and improvements to political ad archives to boost transparency.

Any political ads and content related to social issues – such as the environment, immigration or health – will require the poster to verify their identity. Details on who has paid for election ads will be stored on the company’s political archive and can be explored by anyone regardless if they are a Facebook user or not.

Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions, Richard Allen, outlined the social media giant’s plans in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

“Anybody who wants to run a political ad on our platforms in the UK must go through a verification process and provide ID documents to prove who they are and that they live here,” Allen explained.

“Political ads are then labelled so you can see who has paid for them. We also put them into an Ad Library for seven years so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them, and how much was spent.”

Allan said the company plans to establish a “dedicated operations centre” for Facebook in the UK when a general election is called. This outfit will monitor content on Facebook and remove any posts or associated materials that breach its rules.

Full Fact will also play a key role in stemming the spread of misinformation on Facebook, Allen insisted. Co-founded in 2010 by Conservative party donor Michael Samuel, the organisation will assess the legitimacy of images and video content posted to the platform.

“Images and videos on Facebook which they assess to be untrue will now be more clearly labelled as false and we’ll continue pointing people to reports, which debunk the myth,” Allen said. “Our algorithm also heavily demotes this content so it’s seen by fewer people and far less likely to go viral.”

A new dedicated channel for reporting harassment will be launched for political candidates, Allen claimed.

The social media giant also announced its plans ahead of the 2020 US Presidential Election, with new features set to highlight and track campaign ad spending by candidates.

Facebook is, once again, expected to be an ideological battleground during the run-up to the 2020 Presidential Election, and the company is preparing for targeted campaigns by foreign influencers.

Facebook’s chief of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the firm is continuing to combat misinformation networks scattered throughout numerous groups and pages across the platform. Within the last week, Gleicher’s team has taken down a number of accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram.

He said: “Over the last year, our investigative teams, working together with partners in civil society, law enforcement and industry, have found and stopped more than 50 manipulation campaigns around the world.

“As part of this ongoing work, this morning, we removed four separate networks of accounts, pages and groups from Facebook and Instagram – three of them originated in Iran and one in Russia.”

The Russian misinformation campaign identified by Facebook “showed some links” to the St Petersburg-based internet research agency and had “all the hallmarks of a well-resourced operation”.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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