The role of social media’s ability to influence our everyday choices is growing, and tough decisions have to be made when that influence extends to world-impacting events such as terrorism and elections.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who’s just back from parental leave, took to Facebook Live and detailed nine steps the massive two-billion strong social network is taking to ensure electoral integrity will be upheld in the future.
Counsel for the social media giant also posted updates to their newsroom, diving more in-depth regarding their handling of targeted malicious ad buys during the 2016 American election. Facebook discovered that over 3,000 ads bought by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency addressing social and political issues ran in the U.S. between 2015 and 2017. This sparked widespread discussion on how to handle these ads and address any harmful intent behind them.
Earlier this year, Facebook agreed to provide information around the ads to the U.S. special counsel that was investigating interference in the 2016 election. Now Facebook has revealed they are also handing over information with congressional investigators. This is in an effort “to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely,” according to a post by Colin Stretch, general counsel for Facebook.
Facebook did not make the decision lightly, as they know handing over of any information to authorities is met by backlash from the public regarding privacy and information safeguarding. Their reasoning is that this particular information can perhaps answer questions that deal with the integrity of the U.S. election, something the public deserves full transparently on.
Zuckerberg’s steps addressed about how Facebook will remedy the situation and how concerns will be dealt with in the future.
“I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity,” he began in the livestream. “I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy.”
The nine outlined ideas all revolve around how to improve political discourse and security and are summarized below.
- As outlined above, Facebook is working with the U.S. government about any kind of interference in an election or otherwise. They will continue to work with the U.S. government.
- Continue to work on their own investigation with the 2016 election. They are looking into other Russian groups, and even individual campaigns.
- Make political advertising more transparent. They will force political pages to disclose what ads they have currently running.
- Strengthen the ad review process for political ads. This means less programmatically-bought ads.
- Increase the investment in security and election integrity. Double the size of the team working on election integrity, and add 250 more people focused on security and safety of the community.
- Expand relationships with election commissions around the world and outline risks found in other countries specific elections.
- Increase sharing of threat information with other companies. Explore more ways to share info about electoral abuse.
- Work proactively to strengthen the democratic process beyond pushing back against threats. Facebook will create services to secure communities while engaging with the political process. This might include adapting the anti-bully system to political harassment as well.
- Working to ensure the integrity of German election this coming weekend.
“We will do our part not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world but to also give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere,” concluded Zuckerberg.
Check out Zuckerberg’s full livestream below.