Facebook unveils plans for preventing spread of misinformation ahead of elections worldwide

Facebook unveils plans for preventing spread of misinformation ahead of elections worldwide

Facebook on Monday unveiled new plans for preventing the spread of misinformation ahead of elections in multiple regions, including the European Union and Ukraine. 

"In advance of the European Parliament election, in late March we will launch additional tools in the EU to help prevent foreign interference and make political and issue advertising on Facebook more transparent," the social media giant wrote in a statement on Monday. 

Facebook said the tools will make it easier for users to learn information about groups behind political advertisements, adding that it will put advertisers through a more rigorous authorization process to ensure they are not foreign entities seeking to sway regional elections. 

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Facebook earlier this month began temporarily barring foreign entities from purchasing electoral ads on the platform in Nigeria before voters in that country cast ballots. The company will implement that policy in Ukraine as the country heads into its March elections. 

Facebook also said it will begin assembling information on ads in the European Union, India, Ukraine and Israel, which all have elections coming up. That information will be placed in a library available for users to peruse for up to seven years, the company said, adding that library will include information on the number of people the ad reached, the demographics of who saw the ad, and the budget of the advertisement. 

Facebook is predicting these tools will launch globally by the summer.

The tech giant is also setting up operations centers focused on election integrity in Dublin and Singapore this year. The teams in those offices will be focused on fighting misinformation spread during elections around the world, it said. 

"These teams will add a layer of defense against fake news, hate speech and voter suppression, and will work cross-functionally with our threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations, legal and other teams," Facebook said in the statement.

Facebook organized similar efforts ahead of the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. and the general election in Brazil. 

The changes come as Facebook seeks to stave off critics who claim it has not done enough to prevent disinformation and political manipulation from spreading across the platform. Facebook has dealt with aggressive criticism in the U.S. for more than a year as it seeks to weed out Russian accounts linked to troll farms that sought to manipulate the 2016 election. 

In the European Union, Facebook has come under fire for its role in the Brexit referendum, with critics saying trolls and bad actors took advantage of the platform with pro-Brexit messaging.