Social Media

Facebook braces for US election chaos, with tools used for at-risk countries

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Facebook is planning for probable chaos around the US presidential election on November 3rd with moderation internal tools that it has previously deployed in other countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka, as per media reports.

As all the disinformation campaigns running wildly online in just weeks to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook says it’s preparing for the worst come election night.

The plans are – slowing the spread of posts as they start going viral, altering the news feed algorithm to tweak the news feed to change what types of content users see among others, and changing the rules for the content that is dangerous and warrants removal. They’re strategies Facebook has already used in at-risk countries dealing with political bloodshed or mass ethnic unrest. Facebook could also lower the threshold for the content which its moderation systems mark as problematic.

Some employees of the company said that they were concerned that attempting to slow down viral content could suppress and hide legitimate political discussions and viral content.

However, the tools will only be used in the event of election-related violence or other dire circumstances.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said in a September blog post said that the US Presidential Election is not going to be business as usual.

Zuckerberg further added, “The Company is also worried as election results potentially are out in days or even weeks, and due to this there could be an increased risk of civil unrest across the country.”

Facebook’s handling of violent hate speech against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar several years ago was also widely criticized. After a 2018 assessment of the situation, the social media platform accepted that it wasn’t doing enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence. The Facebook team said, “We agree that we can and should do more.” Facebook also pledged to better prepare for future risks.

Social media platforms are all getting ready for pre-and post-election uncertainty in the US after President Trump has been criticizing mail-in voting, which is very popular during this election due to the coronavirus pandemic spread. He even hinted that he would refuse to accept the election results if he loses.

Facebook took a slew of action and had announced last month that it would not accept new political ads a week before the US election and those already approved will continue running. It also added a voter information center at the top of Facebook and Instagram feeds, and also plans to provide live, official election results when available via a partnership with Reuters. Facebook has also remarked that it will label posts declaring premature victory, and will remove the posts with misinformation about COVID-19 or voting. And it also plans to ban all US political ads indefinitely after the November 3rd election.

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