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Offbeat American elections: how Facebook is preparing against disinformation and protests

19:55  28 october  2020
19:55  28 october  2020 Source:   elle.fr

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In an extremely tense climate, the social network has implemented several measures to avoid the interference that deeply marked the 2016 presidential election.

  Élections américaines : comment Facebook se prépare contre la désinformation et les contestations © PA Photos / ABACA

It is an explosive subject since the American presidential election which brought Donald Trump to power. Four years ago, the election was marked by several scandalous interference via social media. The British firm Cambridge Analytica had notably hijacked the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users for propaganda purposes. Organizations close to the Kremlin had also carried out massive influence operations in favor of the Republican candidate. This year, to prove that it has become a major and responsible actor in the elections, and no longer a vehicle of massive disinformation, conducive to the manipulation of voters, the social network has stepped up initiatives to preserve the election.

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4.4 Million Americans Encouraged to Vote

In its arsenal, Facebook can count on the "Voting Information Center". Launched in mid-August, it bombards users of the platform with encouragement to register. This one-stop-shop, on the model of the one created on the coronavirus, provides in particular the methods of voting in each state, a tool to recruit agents for the polling stations and real-time information. With this measure, Facebook estimates that it has helped 4.4 million people register to vote in the United States this year.

But encouraging participation also involves combating the various tactics of “suppressing the vote” of which Republicans are often accused vis-à-vis black or Hispanic minorities, generally more inclined to vote Democrat. The American company, for example, has undertaken to withdraw publications assuring that going to vote would lead to contamination with the coronavirus.

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Recently, Facebook added a rule, apparently tailor-made against a video of the Republican campaign, in which Donald Trump Junior asks anyone "in good health" to join "Trump's army for election security" . The terms military and intimidation are henceforth prohibited in this context.

Fight against disinformation

It is the most emblematic workhorse, so much the mandate of Donald Trump will have been marked by the controversies around the "fake news". Often considered lax with respect to the content published on the platform, Facebook has invested heavily in its third-party verification program, in which around sixty media outlets around the world participate, including Agence France Presse (AFP). If a piece of news is deemed false or misleading by one of these media, users are less likely to see it appear on their news feed. The network also suggests that they read the verification article.

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Since 2018, the network giant has accumulated experience with the creation of a unit dedicated to the elections for the midterm polls in the United States, now used in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Emphasis has been placed on transparency, so that users are always clear who is speaking to them. This summer, pages of state-owned and financially editorialized media have been flagged as such, and advertisements by such organizations are banned if directed at Americans.

Offensive against foreign interference

Week after week, Facebook dismantles manipulation networks orchestrated from abroad. It also tracks down accounts that attempt to spread false information, conspiracy theories, hate speeches and hijacked videos. The actors involved have perfected their techniques to be less easily spotted, but they have also become less effective. Collaboration with the authorities often makes it possible to stop them before they have built a substantial audience.

The platform has also strengthened the protections of candidate accounts. The group now fears especially "hack-and-leak" tactics: entities linked to states give pirated information to the media and use networks to propagate it. This is what happened with emails from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

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Prevent the dissemination of advance proclamations

The social network must also protect itself from the candidates themselves, in a tense national context, between the pandemic and the wave of protests against racism, which regularly lead to violence. On D-Day, Facebook prepares for disaster scenarios in the event that its services are used to proclaim results or call to challenge them. No new political advertising may be broadcast in the week preceding the election. And all those on matters of society or politics will be banned on its platforms in the United States on the evening of November 3, to reduce the risks of "confusion or abuse", as long as it takes.

The American giant fears that the results will take a long time to be known, because of the greater use than usual of postal voting during a pandemic, and that the results will be very disputed in the meantime. At the risk of violence in the street. “If a candidate or party announces their victory prematurely before a result is given by major media outlets, we will add specific information indicating that the vote count is still in progress and the winner has not yet determined, ”the social network recently recalled.

If ever the situation gets out of hand and turns into chaos, Facebook has provided emergency measures. The platform could "reduce the circulation of content" in the event of violence, said Nick Clegg, its public affairs manager. In an eventful election , the social network wants to do everything not to come out and discredit.

Facebook and Twitter have censored the articles of an American daily, the Senate wants explanations .
Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey have agreed to come and explain themselves before a Senate committee to be held after the American presidential elections. They will have to justify the acts of censorship taken against an American media recognized on their platforms. © 01net.com Facebook and Twitter have censored the articles in an American daily, the Senate wants an explanation Facebook and Twitter will again have to provide an explanation to the United States Senate for their recent actions.

usr: 0
This is interesting!