Facebook may have dropped the ball with the U.S. presidential election, but it was much better prepared for last weekend's federal election in Germany. Today Facebook outlined all its efforts to prevent malicious actors from meddling in the election.
"These actions did not eliminate misinformation entirely in this election – but they did make it harder to spread, and less likely to appear in people’s News Feeds" wrote Richard Allan, Facebook's VP of Public Policy for EMEA.
- Deleting tens of thousands of suspicious accounts
- Fighting fake news in video and text clickbait
- Showing alternative perspectives on news stories via Related Articles
- Offering space where political parties could describe stances on core issues
- Providing a comparison tool for the political parties
- Launching an Election Hub to see what candidates were on the ballot
- Sending in-app notifications for people to learn about and follow their newly elected leaders
- Working with the German Federal Office for Information Security
- Training political candidates about online security issues
- Establishing a dedicated support channel for reports of election security and integrity issues
- Giving news outlets access to its Berlin studio for distributing Facebook Live reports on election results
A study found that fake news prevalence surrounding the election was low, indicating some level of success for Facebook.
If Facebook can use this same set of strategies as well as develop new ones, it may be able to significantly reduce the potential for misuse of its platform to sway elections. From there, it can work on actually mending the rifts in our societies caused by political polarization.
Facebook may find resistance from Trump if it tries to implement more of these tactics stateside. Today Trump tweeted that Facebook is "anti-Trump", which we suspect may cause Facebook to investigate election interference on his behalf less aggressively to avoid seeming biased.
While it's too late to undue damage caused by election interference that may have helped Donald Trump get elected, the efforts in Germany show Facebook is willing to admit its shortcomings, learn fast, and make progress.