Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Facebook Says Has Made Headway Against Online Abuses

Throughout a media tour of the company’s election operations centre at its Menlo Park headquarters at California on Friday, company officials criticized new fact-checking attempts for restraining misinformation and technological improvements such as the capability to detect when videos were doctored.

But Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director for international elections, said measures including a better system for verifying the buyers of political commercials remained incomplete and called for greater government regulation of ad-spending disclosures.

Excoriated for failing to prevent Russian manipulation in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has ramped up efforts to prevent abuses in subsequent elections, such as the 2018 American midterms and the recent Brazilian and Mexican contests. Authorities in many countries, including India and the UK, are considering strict new regulations for social networking companies.

India, in which Facebook has more users than in almost any other nation, is shaping up as a major test. On April 1, the business said it had removed more than 500 accounts and 138 pages connected to India’s opposition Congress party for”coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” Facebook’s term for its usage of bogus accounts and other deceptive procedures to promote a new message.

It also took down a webpage with 2 million followers which, based on Facebook’s review spouse Atlantic Council think tank, was”pro-BJP” (the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party) and also a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Harbath said the company can now immediately detect viral, politically sensitive stories and refer them for fact-checking by external businesses. The officials also touted heavy investment in technology for detecting doctored text and videos inside pictures, but confessed they were not able to stop some duplicates of videos which were recognized as spurious.

Facebook has partnered with seven fact-checkers in India. When a post is found to be untrue, the company says it reduces the flow of these fake posts by more than 80 per cent, but slightly modified versions of the same images, text or video can escape detection and spread further.

Reuters earlier this month discovered cases of edited posts circulating on Facebook which the organization’s own fact-checkers had stated were false.

Deceptive political advertising is now another hot-button problem for the provider. Facebook has toughened the principles in India and political ads now include”printed by” and”compensated by” disclaimers. Users can also get a library that allows them to hunt and discover more about political advertisements.

Harbath said political advertising purchases in India now need either a certification in the Election Commission or a physical address in India, as well as a phone number and group name of the entity purchasing the advertisement.

Even though Facebook will check that the address and telephone number are legitimate, the company agreed that the same person could make up several entities in the same address, without any available record of the original supply of cash.