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Facebook Moves to Stop Election Misinformation

2020-09-03 15:01:19
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Facebook also plans to remove posts that both explicitly and implicitly aim to disenfranchise or prohibit people from voting; previously, the company removed only posts that actively discouraged people from voting. Now, a post that causes confusion around who is eligible to vote or some part of the voting process — such as a misstatement about what documentation is needed to receive a ballot — would also be removed.

The company also said it would limit the number of people that users can forward messages to in its Messenger app to no more than five people, down from more than 150 people previously. The move mirrors what WhatsApp, the messaging app also owned by Facebook, did in 2018 when it limited message forwarding to 20 people from a previous maximum of 250. WhatsApp now limits message forwarding to five people maximum.

Misinformation across private communication channels is a much more difficult problem to tackle than on public social networks because it is hidden. Limiting message forwarding could slow that spread.

To get accurate information on the election’s results, Facebook said it plans to work with Reuters, the news organization, to provide verified election results to the voting information center. If any candidate tries to declare victory falsely or preemptively, Facebook said, it would add a label to those posts directing users to the official results.

Mr. Zuckerberg has said publicly that Facebook exists to “give people a voice,” and that “voting is voice.” On Tuesday, he and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, donated $300 million to support voting infrastructure and security efforts.

Facebook teams have worked for months to walk through different scenarios and contingency plans for how to handle the election. The company has built an arsenal of tools and products to safeguard elections in the past four years. It also invited people in government, think tanks and academia to participate.

In recent months, Facebook also turned more to postelection planning. Mr. Zuckerberg and some of his lieutenants had started holding daily meetings about minimizing how the platform could be used to dispute the election, people with knowledge of the company have said. Last month, Facebook employees asked how the social network would act if Mr. Trump tried to cast doubt on the election results and Mr. Zuckerberg, at a staff meeting, said he found the president’s comment on mail-in voting “quite troubling.”

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