Facebook removing a million accounts in India every day to combat fake news ahead of elections
Just days ahead of India's General Elections, in what is the world's largest democratic exercise, Facebook announced that it is putting in concerted efforts to combat misinformation campaigns, abuse, and voter suppression on its platform. The company is using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to take down one million abusive accounts per day. These accounts are related to the spread of fake news and abuse ahead of 17th Lok Sabha polls.
The Mark Zuckerberg-owned company, which has faced much flak for meddling with the electoral process in various countries, announced that it has put in place a slew of measures and directives over the past 18 months to ensure free and fair polls are held in India, devoid of any interference from either Facebook itself or its suite of apps, including WhatsApp. Facebook stated that this is being done across dozens of teams, both in India and around the globe.
Image: FB Newsroom
Ajit Mohan, Managing Director and Vice-President, Facebook India said,
"It began more than 18 months ago with a detailed planning and risk assessment across our platforms. The findings allowed us to concentrate our work on key areas, including blocking and removing fake accounts; fighting the spread of misinformation; stopping abuse by domestic actors; spotting attempts at foreign meddling; and taking action against inauthentic coordinated campaigns."
Facebook has launched "political ad transparency tools" that give users - nearly 300 million of them in India - a clearer picture of who is placing the ads that appear on their feeds. Facebook will add a “Paid for by” or “Published by” disclaimer to all election-related ads that run on the platform.
The company explained,
"Anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics has to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who paid for or published the ad. Anyone can find information on the spend behind the ad as well as demographics of who saw it."
In order to maximise its reach across regions, Facebook has expanded its partnership with third-party fact-checkers to seven accredited organisations in India. These groups cover eight of the country's most spoken languages — English, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Gujarati. And, the platform said it is looking to add more.
“In a country largely driven by local and community news, we knew it was critical to have fact-checking partners who could review content across regions and languages,” Mohan said.
This week, Facebook will also be activating new regional operational centres, focused on election integrity, in Singapore and Dublin. These teams will include engineers, operations specialists, and data scientists, who will work closely with the company's Menlo Park headquarters, as well as with local experts in Delhi.