Mark Zuckerberg is back from paternity leave and ready to face some of Facebook’s most prominent problems. The CEO held a talk today via Facebook Live where he addressed Russian interference in the US elections, democracy and transparency on Facebook, which appear to be the main topics on his agenda.
“I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity. Facebook’s mission is all about giving people a voice and bringing people together. Those are all democratic values and we’re proud of them.” he said. “I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy, that’s not what we stand for.”
He explained that Facebook cannot completely eradicate malicious content from its website, but can try its hardest to spot it as early as possible. He went on to say that “Facebook is a force for good in democracy and any attempted interference is a serious issue.”
In order to tackle this obstacle, he proposed nine points that it’ll be working on over the next few months:
1. Actively working with the US government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference. The social network has already provided congress with evidence of Russian interference and continues to investigate. The company can’t reveal the information, but hope the government share it as it makes some progress.
2. Facebook will continue to carry out its own investigations into what happened during this election. It’ll be actively looking for foreign actors, Russian groups, other former soviet states to try and understand how they took advantage of Facebook’s tools.
3. Make political advertising more transparent. Zuckerberg stated that this was the most important step. Not only will advertisers have to disclose which Page paid for an ad, there will also be information about all the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook. This will roll out over the coming months.
4. Strengthen ad review process with political ads. He explained most ads are bought programmatically without any advertisers talking to anyone at Facebook. The plan isn’t for advertisers to speak directly to Facebook employees, but rather to better the process. Making an important point about freedom of speech, he explained the company “Don’t check what people say before they say it and we shouldn’t do it (…) We won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere.”
5. Increased investment in security and specifically in election integrity. In the next year, Facebook aims to double the team working on election integrity. This will mean adding 250 people across all teams who will be focused on the security and safety of the Facebook community.
6. Expand partnerships with election commissions around the world. Facebook already works with electoral commissions in many countries. Now, it’s also going to establish a channel to inform to the election commissions of the online risks that it identifies in relation to their specific elections.
7. Increased sharing of threat information with other technology and security companies. The CEO explained it’s vital that tech companies work together to solve the problem of election interference. “It’s important that tech companies collaborate on this because it’s almost certain that any actor trying to abuse Facebook will use others too”
8. Work proactively to better the democratic process. It hopes to create more services to protect the Facebook community while engaging on political discourse, for example bettering the anti-bullying system to avoid users feeling attacked when they engage in civil discourse.
9. Ensured integrity of the German elections this weekend. The company claims it has taken action against thousand of fake accounts and has partnered with the German Office. It plans to take a closer look at the activity of accounts it’s removed to understand where it’s gone wrong.
The CEO went on to point out the helpful services Facebook provided during elections. The platform is used for both political debate and as a way for politicians to interact with millions of constituents. The effect of which has changed the way politicians campaign and raised voter awareness in the digital age.
“We will continue working with the government to understand the extent of Russian interference.” he rounded up, “We will do our part, not only to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, but also to give everyone a voice and to be a force for good in democracy everywhere.”
Let’s hope that by the 2020 elections fake news will be a thing of the past.