Facebook revs up its media watchdog capabilities ahead of 2019 Elections

In a recent blog penned by Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director, and Samidh Chakrabarti, Director of Product Management, Civic Engagement, Facebook, have announced that they have taken a ‘multifaceted’ approach to protect the integrity of elections.

The organisation claims that they have over 3x times the people working on safety and security across the company compared to 2017 which amounts to 30,000 people. The key areas of concern have been identified as blocking and removing fake accounts, removing bad actors, limiting spread of misinformation, and bringing transparency to political advertising.

To improve their coordination and response time to combat the rapid spread of misinformation, the social media giant has announced plans to open offices in Dublin and Singapore. These offices will allow their global teams to work better across regions in the run up to the elections.

The company has also laid down a three-step framework to improve the quality and authenticity of their stories on their News Feed. Most importantly the company has expanded its collaboration with third party fact checking programs that will review photos, videos and article links and will cover content in 16 languages. They have stipulated that pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will be penalized with reduced distribution with the hopes that will be curb spread of financially motivated fake news.

It may be recalled that in December 2019, Facebook had announced that it would be initiating big changes in the way it manages ads on the platform. In a blog post, Facebook mentioned that it is taking firm steps to prevent abuse of the platform during the Lok Sabha elections. 

Facebook announced that it would now verify the identity and location of the person who wants to publish a political ad. Advertisers have been asked to begin the process in advance on their mobile phones via the Facebook app as the verification process may take a few weeks.


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