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Facebook readies to fight fake news and launch transparency tools ahead of Indian elections

Vishal Krishna
29th Jan 2019
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In a new blog post, Facebook has listed down steps it is taking to fight fake news and maintain the integrity of elections across the globe, including India’s general elections in 2019.

The social media and networking service company will set up two regional operations centres to track election integrity, in Dublin and Singapore. These centres will monitor Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, platforms owned by Facebook.

Facebook added that “these teams will add a layer of defence against fake news, hate speech, and voter suppression, and will work cross-functionally with our threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations, legal, and other teams.”

In February, Facebook will launch transparency tools for electoral ads in India. The company has added 30,000 people to work on safety and security across the company's global offices for this. Facebook said its machine learning algorithms have the ability to determine behaviour that is violating freedom.

Transparency in advertising

The blog said it was expanding its advertising transparency policies, and cited the example of Nigeria, where Facebook banned foreign sponsored political ads. The Menlo Park, California-based company will also implement this strategy during the upcoming Ukraine elections.

The new tools will help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue-based advertising transparent. All political ads will have to go through a verification process; once published, the information will be publicly available online in a library for seven years.

This seven-year repository of records will include information on ad budgets, number of people the ads reached, and the demographics, including gender and location.

Tackling misinformation and false news

Apart from blocking and removing fake accounts, the company will work to limit the spread of false news by following a framework:

  • Removing content that violates Facebook Community Standards.
  • Controlling click baits to lessen distribution of such items in news feed, so fewer people see them.
  • Informing people by giving them more context about the news published.

The company’s third-party fact-checking programme will also be strengthened. In the blog, Facebook said it was up against determined adversaries who try to attack it on many fronts and that it “recognised its role and responsibility to its users”.

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