Facebook has released an article explaining how it will strengthen its platform, with this year’s elections in mind.
In a blog post, titled ‘Expanding our efforts to protect elections in 2019′, a number of interesting points were discussed and highlighted.
The report was jointly compiled by Facebook’s Katie Harbath and Samidh Chakrabarti. Respectively, they hold the roles of Global Politics and Government Outreach Director and Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement.
So, what is Facebook doing to protect elections in 2019?
The social media giant says that it has made “massive investments” to help protect the integrity of elections. This has mostly been done over the past two years.
In this time Facebook says it has anticipated fresh challenges and responded to new risks. As well as this, it has also addressed common threats seen before on the platform.
“Our approach to this problem – like the problem itself – is multifaceted,” read the joint report.
Tactics include finding and removing bad actors, and blocking and removing fake accounts. Moreover, Facebook seeks to limit the spread of false news and hopes to bring “unprecedented transparency” to political advertising.
More than 30,000 people work in safety and security across the company today. That’s three times as many than in 2017.
“We have also improved our learning capabilities,” continued the report. “Which allows us to be more efficient and effective in finding and removing violating behaviour.
“These improvements have helped in many ways, including our work to fight coordinated inauthentic behaviour.”
Does Facebook get any support in protecting election integrity?
Facebook works very closely with law enforcement, regulators and election commissions. It also receives support from other tech companies, researchers, academics and civil society groups.
“While these efforts are global, we also customise our work to individual countries,” added the report. “[This is] based on research and threat assessments that begin many months before ballots are cast.”
How can Facebook expand its efforts?
Facebook has highlighted three main areas that it is working to strengthen. Expanding Political Advertising Transparency Policies is first on the list.
Already this year, Facebook has temporarily disallowed electoral ads purchased outside of Nigeria, ahead of their election. The same policy will be implemented in Ukraine before theirs.
Additional tools will also be launched to help prevent foreign interference in March’s European Parliament election.
Facebook has also confirmed more resources for Rapid Response for Elections in Europe and Asia. Two new regional operation centres, focussed on election integrity, will be based in Facebook’s Dublin and Singapore offices. This will expand on previous work done to fight misinformation in advance of the US midterms and the Brazil presidential election.
“This will allow our global teams to better work across regions in the run-up to elections,” adds the report. “[It] will further strengthen our coordination and response time between staff in Menlo Park and in-country.
“These teams will add a layer of defence against fake news, hate speech and voter suppression.”
The teams will work cross-functionally with Facebook’s threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations and legal teams.
Facebook is also striving to grow its capacity to Address Misinformation and False News. A three-part framework is carried out across News Feed, to improve quality and authenticity. Content which violates Community Standards is removed. Meanwhile, stories which undermine authenticity, while not directly violating rules, are reduced in distribution.
“Improving security is never finished”
Harbath and Chakrabarti say Facebook’s work to improve security will continue indefinitely. Their report adds: “While these efforts represent an improvement over the past few years, we know that improving security is never finished.
“There have always been people trying to undermine democracy. We are up against determined adversaries who try to attack on many fronts, and we recognise our role and responsibility.
“We will never stop all the bad actors, but we’re making real progress and we are committed to continuing to improve.”