Earlier this year, Facebook admitted that social media platforms can be bad for democracy and that fake news on the platform was one of the biggest deterrents to democracy as we know it. The company has since been working on ways to make the platform ‘good for democracy’ and had onboarded a number of partners to fact check news articles.
In a recent conference call with journalists, Facebook has revealed that its partners will now be fact checking photos and videos along with the news stories, even before Facebook asks them to do so. In a blog post on the matter, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, outlined the four main election security areas that the company is working on, including combating foreign interference, removing fake accounts, increasing ads transparency, and reducing the spread of false news.
During the call, Stamos said:
“When you tease apart the overall digital misinformation problem, you find multiple types of bad content and many bad actors with different motivations. It is important to match the right approach to these various challenges. And the requires not just careful analysis of what has happened. We also have to have the most up to date intelligence to understand completely new types of misinformation.”
He then highlighted the most common issues related to ‘fake news’, including fake identities, fake audiences, false facts, and false narratives. In order to combat the various kinds of ‘fake’ “we’re trying to develop a systematic and comprehensive approach to tackle these challenges, and then to map that approach to the needs of each country or election”, Stamos added.
Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement, Samidh Chakrabarti, added that the platform will now actively look for foreign-based pages which “are distributing inauthentic civic content”. Once identified, the pages will be manually reviewed by Facebook’s security team to check if they violate Community Standards or Terms of Service. Any page that violates Facebook policy will be removed from the platform.
The proactive approach is expected to help Facebook curb fake news before it goes viral and the company plans to use this approach in the upcoming US midterm elections to prevent bad actors on the platform from influencing the election results.