‘Facebook has changed’: Mark Zuckerberg unleashes plan to battle 2020 election interference

iStock(NEW YORK) — Facebook executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared new initiatives to help defend against election interference on the platform ahead of the 2020 presidential elections after the fallout over the 2016 elections.

“The bottom line here is that elections have changed significantly since 2016, and Facebook has changed too,” Zuckerberg told reporters Monday, adding that the social media giant is “proactively going after some of the biggest threats out there” in ways that he says are “more advanced than what any other company is doing.”

“We have a big responsibility to secure our platforms and stay ahead of these sophisticated new threats,” he added, saying that it is “one of my top priorities for the company.”

He also announced Monday that Facebook has already shut down four foreign networks on the platform — from Iran and Russia — for allegedly attempting to interfere with upcoming elections.

Facebook announced new initiatives Monday to help fight foreign interference, increase transparency and reduce misinformation on the platform ahead of the presidential elections. Facebook is currently the largest social media site in the world with almost 2.38 billion monthly active users, according to data from Statista.

Zuckerberg said he is confident they are “more prepared now” because of the role Facebook has played in “defending against election interference” around the world since 2016.

To fight foreign interference, Facebook has increased measures to combat inauthentic activity — and on Monday morning removed a cluster of four separate networks of accounts for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” according to a company blog post.

The networks originated in Iran, and one of them in Russia, according to the company. They targeted the U.S., North Africa and Latin America and used accounts as well as the Pages and Groups feature on Facebook and Instagram, to engage in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the blog post also stated.

“We took down these networks based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” the company said. “In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action. We have shared our findings with law enforcement and industry partners.”

Facebook also announced on Monday “Facebook Protect,” which works to add an additional layer of security to the Facebook accounts of candidates, elected officials and more who may be vulnerable to targeting by hackers.

As part of the efforts to increase transparency, Facebook also announced a slew of updates that include showing the confirmed owner and operator of a page, clearly labeling posts from state-controlled media, and a new U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker that shows exactly how much each candidate has spent on political ads.

“We’re going to display clearly on pages what country the page is operated from and the legal name of the person that is operating the page,” Zuckerberg said Monday. “People are now going to be able to see a prominent label that it is coming from another country.”

Finally, as part of its strategy for reducing misinformation, Facebook announced clearer fact-checking labels that will indicate when content has been reported false by a third-party fact checker and link out to the fact-checker’s analysis.

Moreover, Facebook said it would ban ads that suggest voting is useless or give false information on how to vote.

Zuckerberg said they are “very focused on preventing voter suppression on our platform.”

“We take down any content that is misleading about how to vote and when to vote,” such as ads that say you can “vote by text,” the CEO said.

When asked why Facebook refuses to remove content completely if it has been determined to be untrue, Zuckerberg said he believes in a democracy people should be able to see what candidates say for themselves.

“I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying and people should be able to make up their own minds about which politicians are credible,” he said. “I don’t think those determinations should come from tech companies.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Long Island's 24 Hour News and Information Station.