Facebook has now started investing heavily to prevent its platform from being abused during elections. The company today has entered into a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, wherein experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with Facebook’s security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world, including India.
“This will help increase the number of ‘eyes and ears’ we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world,” the company said in a blog post.
Facebook will also use the Atlantic Council’s Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions during elections and other highly sensitive moments. This will allow Facebook to focus on a particular geographic area — monitoring for misinformation and foreign interference and also working to help educate citizens as well as civil society.
The company has also doubled the number of people who work on safety and security and using technology like artificial intelligence to more effectively block fake accounts – the source of many bad ads and a lot of misinformation.
The move comes after Facebook got involved in its biggest ever controversy over the Cambridge Analytica scandal for its handling of personal data. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that “mistakes" were made over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a "breach of trust" had occurred between it and its users, the company has been trying to regain the trust of its users and has updated the data privacy settings to give users more control over their data.
“This effort is part of a broader initiative to help provide credible and independent research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally. We look forward to working together to protect free and fair elections across the world,” Facebook said.
Earlier this week, Facebook said that 583 million fake accounts were identified and were disabled within minutes of registration in the first quarter of 2018. This is in addition to the millions of fake account attempts Facebook prevents daily from ever registering with Facebook, the social media giant said in a report.
Overall, Facebook estimates that around three to four per cent of the active Facebook accounts on the site during this time period were still fake.
“We took down 837 million pieces of spam in Q1 2018 — nearly 100 per cent of which we found and flagged before anyone reported it; and took down 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity in Q1 2018 — 96 per cent of which was found and flagged by our technology before it was reported,” said Alex Schultz, our Vice President of Data Analytics, Facebook.
This is for the first-time Facebook has revealed enforcement numbers.
“We believe that increased transparency tends to lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time, and publishing this information will push us to improve more quickly too. This is the same data we use to measure our progress internally — and you can now see it to judge our progress for yourselves,” added Schultz.