Facebook has begun enabling partners to review photos and videos beyond news articles and proactively review stories before Facebook asks them. Facebook is now blocking the creation of millions of counterfeit accounts per day. Facebook unveiled this message in a conference call with journalists [Update: and later a blog post] about its efforts toward electoral integrity, including chief stakeholder Alex Stamos, who is scheduled to leave Facebook later this year.
Stamos outlined how Facebook manages to address false identities and false accounts, targeting wrong audiences to illegally educate or replenish to make content more popular, disseminate false information and false narratives that purposely deceive and shape people's beliefs beyond the facts. "It's important to find the right approach to each of these challenges," explains Stamos, explaining that Facebook is adapting its solutions to these problems in different countries around the world.
Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook's Civic Engagement Product Manager, also said Facebook is proactively looking for third-party sites that authentically produce civic content. It removes them from the platform if a manual review by the security team determines that they violate the Terms of Service.
"This proactive approach has moved us faster and has become a really important way to prevent divisive or misleading memes from becoming viral," Chakrabarti said. Facebook initially used this tool in the special elections in Alabama, but has now used it to defend the Italian elections and will use it for US midterm elections.
Meanwhile, advances in machine learning have made Facebook "show more suspicious behavior without checking the content itself," blocking millions of counterfeit account creations per day "before they can do any harm," says Chakrabarti.
Facebook implemented its first election protection measures back in December 201
Facebook usually sends facts that are tagged by users and go viral. But now, in countries like Italy and Mexico in the run-up to elections, Facebook has enabled fact checkers to actively tag things because in some cases they can identify false stories that are spreading in front of Facebook's own systems. "To reduce pre-election latency, we wanted to make sure that we give the fact-testers this ability," says Tessa Lyons, product manager at Facebook.
Faced with the upcoming mid-term, Facebook must protect its systems against electoral attacks and convince users and regulators that it has made real progress since the 2016 presidential election, where Russian killers raged. Otherwise, Facebook risks another endless news cycle about this being a detriment to democracy that could trigger reduced user interest and government interference.