Zuckerberg Outlines Plan, Ensures Election Integrity
Facebook Inc has decided to overhaul its political advertisement rules and to strengthen its security system against possible political interference attempts.
This comes amid the scrutiny the company is receiving due to allegations that its platform has been used by Russian entities to meddle in last year’s US presidential election.
Through the social media platform’s “live” feature, the company’s founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg outlined his plan of action to ensure the integrity of its website as a source of relevant and factual news.
“We are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly,” said Zuckerberg, pledging to actively work with the government on its probe into Russian interference. “We support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete.”
Zuckerberg also claimed that his company is continuously looking into the actions of different groups and organizations, including Russian operatives, before and during the 2016 US presidential election.
“We may find more, and if we do, we will continue to work with the government,” he said.
Arguably the most important highlight of Zuckerberg’s announcement is the company’s plan of bringing its political ads to “an even higher standard of transparency” than ads in other media.
The San Francisco-based company’s founder said that the company would now allow anyone to see any political ads running on Facebook, regardless of who the ads target. Aside from this, the company will also require political advertisers to divulge who pays for all the advertisements. This rule is being implemented by the US law to political ads found on the television but not on social media platforms.
“We will roll this out over the coming months,” said Zuckerberg.
The company also said it would submit copies of the 3,000 political ads that were likely bought by entities with Kremlin links during and after last year’s controversial election.
Moreover, he also noted that big portions of Facebook ads were bought without an advertiser “ever speaking to anyone at Facebook.” Although he did not outline or specify how or to what extent, he claimed that the company can do more to strengthen the process of its political ad review even without their employees involved in the sales.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to catch all bad content in our system. We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly I don’t think our society shouldn’t want us to,” he said. “Freedom means you don’t have to ask permission first, and that by default you can say what you want. If you break our community standards or the law, then you’re going to face consequences afterwards.”
Another important point in his live feed was the increased investment in security and election integrity that Zuckerberg plans to roll out.
He said that Facebook will tremendously increase the size of the team working on election integrity, although he did not reveal how many people are currently working or will eventually work on it. Alternatively, he indicated that the company will add over 250 people across its teams that are focused on security, possibly working not only on elections but also covering other issues. Facebook will also establish a new channel, through which the social network will inform election commissions of the online risks the firm identifies.
Zuckerberg also expressed his willingness to cooperate with other tech companies when it comes to internet platform abuses. He claimed that Facebook is currently figuring out ways to alert other platforms about any case of election interference. This is considered a beneficial move for other tech companies. For instance, Twitter has also been recently summoned by a government committee to look into the possibility that its online platform has been used to meddle with the election. It has also been asked discuss the actions it would take against the proliferation of bot accounts on its website.
“It is important that tech companies collaborate on this because it’s almost certain that any actor trying to misuse Facebook will also be trying to abuse other internet platforms too,” said Zuckerberg.
Furthermore, Zuckerberg promised to bless Facebook users with more protection while engaging political discourse. He claimed that the company is currently putting up anti-bullying systems in order to prevent political harassment. He also said that the system would help the people understand election issues deeper.
Lastly, Zuckerberg said that it has not yet found an attempt at election meddling in Germany. However, he said that the company will continuously monitor fake accounts and examine other suspicious activities.
“I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy. That’s not what we stand for,” Zuckerberg said.
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