Next month will prove a significant one for the future of the United States, as the winner of the US presidential elections is expected to be announced.
In the lead up to the event, Facebook has outlined the plans and measures it has in place to tackle misinformation, and with one week to go before the event begins in earnest, it has detailed a few more tools it will have at its disposal.
In a report by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook explained that it will be taking some of the newly developed tools it has used in other recent elections, namely Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and putting them to use for the US one, if needed.
The tools are specifically designed at limited the spread of misinformation, but with a vast number of votes having already been made as a result of mail-in voting ballots, it remains to be seen how effective these tools will be.
That said, there has already been quite a bit of discourse around mail-in voting, as well as politics during a global pandemic, so instead of fighting foreign state influence, perhaps Facebook is looking at ensuring information shared during and post-voting it accurate.
“We’ve spent years building for safer, more secure elections,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told the WSJ, “We’ve applied lessons from previous elections, hired experts, and built new teams with experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios.”
Facebook would, for example, by able to change its News Feed algorithm to alter what kind of content is served up to users, as well as being able to change the rules for flagging and removing dangerous content.
While having these kinds of tools on hand seems like a solid move, the ability to change it day to day, with no mention of an oversight or vetting system, also raises some questions.
Added to this is whether the platform plans to disclose if and when it has had to instigate such changes, as transparency on these kinds of matters remains something that Facebook must work on.
Either way, as the 2016 elections showed, the influence of social media in politics can be far reaching. We only hope that the aforementioned tools that Facebook has in place do not have to be used frequently.[Image – Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash]