Facebook expands ban election facery to contain lies about voice requirements

Photo: Andrew Harnik (AP)

Facebook is forbidding the dissemination of false information on voting requirements and will also check "fake reports of violence or long queues at polling stations" as part of the preparations for the 2018 midterm elections, reported Reuters Monday.

The general policy of Facebook is not to remove false or misleading information on the platform per se in order to provoke partisan indignation and generally hesitant to ban content that ceases to kick up, it uses methods such as removing page & # 39; s who considers it spam or perform "coordinated non-authentic behavior." It also uses fact-checkers (albeit those who often claim to be overloaded and under-supported) and machine learning to send fraudulent or misleading messages to degrade, as well as the pages that they distribute in news feeds.

However, Facebook has made a big show of how much it gives to elections after the fake news debacle in 2016, which we are all really sewn from. Reuters wrote that the decision to ban the lie about voting rights restrictions is issued under pressure from Congress:

The ban on false information on voting methods, which will be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Sen. Ron Wyden asked Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, how Facebook would postpone moves aimed at suppressing votes, for example by telling certain users that they could vote text, a hoax that has been used to reduce the turnout in the past.

The information about voting methods becomes one of the few areas where untruths are banned on Facebook, a policy enforced by what the company & community standards & # 39; moderators, although the application of the standards was unequal. It will not stop the vast majority of lying reports about candidates or other election issues.

As Reuters pointed out, spreading lies about when and where to vote is already banned by Facebook. CNBC reported that the changes extend this prohibition with "reports about excessive identification requirements", although it does not appear that lies or misleading statements about the circumstances in the polling stations themselves will be more onerous than the standard procedure for checking facts.

The change also does not extend to general propaganda and misinformation about the elections.

"We do not believe we should remove things from Facebook that are shared by authentic people if they do not violate community norms, even if they are false," Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager, told Reuters.

According to Bloomberg, through additional methods, Facebook opens "direct communication lines with the National Association of State Secretaries and the National Association of Election Officers of the State" and allows users "to report cases of voter oppression directly when they see a message in their news feeds."

Reuters wrote that the cybersecurity policy director of Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, also revealed that the company was considering banishing all hacked materials – something with clear ramifications for material leaked by whistleblowers or passed on to journalists – while other sources said it had been waiting briefly for all political ads. prohibit. None of these steps was taken.

The question is whether this all works. Facebook has long stated that it takes the problem seriously, but the measures it has introduced have not been enough to stop the spread of the content of junk, fake and hoax on the site. This problem is also not unique to Facebook: massive technology platforms in general, such as Twitter and Google, are struggling to keep the beast that they have released in check, and it certainly does not help to limit their responsibility for what is going on. through their platforms in the first place. In any case, Facebook wants everyone to know that at least they are trying to do something before they inevitably start shouting again.


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