On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg announced some additional steps that Facebook is taking to help secure the integrity of the U.S. elections. The steps include encouraging voting, directing people to authoritative information, and tackling post-election confusion, among a few others. Zuckerberg mentioned his concern about the potential challenges that people could face when voting. According to him, the steps taken by Facebook reflect what the company has learnt from the elections work over the past four years and the conversations it has had with voting rights experts and civil rights auditors.
Firstly, Facebook will put authoritative information from its Voting Information Center at the top of both Facebook and Instagram almost every day until the election. The information will include video tutorials to guide people about voting by mail, and information on deadlines for registering and voting in different states.
Zuckerberg further stated that Facebook won't accept new political ads in the week prior to the elections. ''I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims. So in the week before the election, we won't accept new political or issue ads.'', he wrote.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has also worked on reducing the risk of misinformation and harmful content going viral by limiting forwarding on Messenger. While users will be able to share information regarding the elections, the number of chats that they forward a message to at a time will be limited. The company used the same strategy for WhatsApp as well and found it to be effective in terms of preventing the spreading of misinformation in a number of countries.
Moreover, Facebook will delete posts containing inaccurate information such as claiming that people who participate in voting will contract coronavirus. Facebook will also guide users to authoritative information by attaching a link about the coronavirus. The link will be attached to posts that discourage voting.
With regard to post-election confusion, Facebook will label content that discusses inaccurate information about voting methods and election outcome, such as claiming that legal voting methods will lead to fraud. The attached labels will contain authentic information in contrast to false information posted on the platform.
Facebook is also expanding its violence and harm policies by including election officials in the definition of high-risk people in order to help prevent any attempts to harm or pressure them.
Zuckerberg further claimed that the company has already strengthened its enforcement against militias, conspiracy networks like QAnon, and other groups that could be used to ''organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the elections.''. He stated that Facebook has already removed thousands of such groups and has disabled them from being included in recommendations and search results on the platform.
Lastly, Facebook will also add labels to posts in which a candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the announcement of final official results. The labels will direct people to official results from Reuters and the National Election Pool.
''We'll enforce the policies I outlined above as well as all our existing policies around voter suppression and voting misinformation, but to ensure there are clear and consistent rules, we are not planning to make further changes to our election-related policies between now and the official declaration of the result.'', Zuckerberg continued.
Zuckerberg also mentioned a threat that Facebook encountered four years ago that was an attempt by foreign governments and individuals to interfere in the elections and mislead people. According to Zuckerberg, the threat hasn't gone away and only last week Facebook took down 13 accounts and 2 pages that were involved. He further ensured that the company has heavily invested in its security systems that are now capable of preventing such attacks. Facebook has also removed more than 100 networks around the globe that were engaging in inauthentic behavior over the last couple of years.
''This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.'', Zuckerberg wrote in his post on Facebook.