Facebook To Clamp Down On Voting Misinformation

Facebook is to tighten up its platform ahead of the forthcoming mid term elections in the United States in November.

It said it would ban false information about voting requirements, and would fact-check fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations, to halt any outside interference in the political voting process.

Meanwhile on this side of the pond, Facebook also brought out new rules for those wishing to advertise a political cause on Facebook in the UK.

Voting interference

Facebook executives told Reuters that the platform will ban false information about voting requirements, and will fact-check fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations ahead of next month’s US midterm elections.

But the social networking giant has stopped short of an outright ban on all false or misleading posts, as this would leave open to charges of censorship and it would cost a lot of money to achieve.

According to Reuters, the new policy was disclosed by Facebook’s cybersecurity policy chief, Nathaniel Gleicher, and other company executives.

It comes after Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was asked by US senators how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes. This can include posts telling certain users they could vote by text – a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past.

“We don’t believe we should remove things from Facebook that are shared by authentic people if they don’t violate those community standards, even if they are false,” Tessa Lyons, product manager for Facebook’s News Feed feature, was quoted as saying.

Links to discouraging reports about polling places that may be inflated or misleading will be referred to fact-checkers under the new policy, Facebook apparently said.

If then marked as false, the reports will not be removed but will be seen by fewer of the poster’s friends.

Earlier this month Facebook announced that it would remove 559 pages and 251 accounts because of spam and “sensational political content.

And in August both Twitter and Facebook removed hundreds of accounts they said were being used to spread fake news. Those accounts were thought to be linked to both Iran and Russia.

UK political ads

Meanwhile on this side of the pond, Facebook has announced that UK political adverts will be subject to new rules that are already in use in both the United States and Brazil.

These new rules will see anyone wishing to advertise a political cause on Facebook in the UK, having to prove their identity and location to the social network.

And furthermore, each advert will have to carry a message saying who paid for it.

In addition to this, the new rules mean that all previous adverts will be available for searching by anyone. This ‘archive of adverts’ will show all previous ads from the same person, how much they spent, and who the adverts were targetted at.

Quiz: Think you know all about Facebook?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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