In this news, we discuss the Is Facebook really ready for the 2020 election?.
Since Russian agents and other opportunists abused his platform in an attempt to manipulate the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook insisted – repeatedly – that he had learned his lesson and was no longer a vehicle for disinformation, voter suppression and election disruption. But it was a long and difficult journey for the social network. Critical outsiders, as well as some Facebook’s own employees, say the company’s efforts to revise its rules and tighten its safeguards remain woefully inadequate, despite having spent billions on the project.
As to why, they point to the company’s continued reluctance to act decisively for much of this period. “Am I concerned about the election? I’m terrified, ”said Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and one of the first Facebook investor turned voice critic. “At the current corporate scale, this is a clear and present danger to democracy and national security.” The company’s rhetoric has certainly been updated. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now referring to possible outcomes that were unimaginable in 2016 – among them, possible civil unrest and potentially a contested election that Facebook could easily get worse – like the challenges the platform now faces.
“This election is not going to go as usual,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post in which he described Facebook’s efforts to encourage voting and remove misinformation from its service. “We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy.” Yet for years Facebook executives seemed to be caught off guard whenever their platform – created to connect the world – was used for malicious purposes.
Zuckerberg has come up with multiple solutions over the years, as if no one could have predicted that people would use Facebook to broadcast murders and suicides live, incite ethnic cleanses, promote bogus cancer cures or attempt to steal elections. While other platforms like Twitter and YouTube have also struggled to tackle disinformation and hateful content, Facebook stands out for its reach and scale and, compared to many other platforms, its slower response to the challenges identified in 2016.
Immediately after the election of President Donald Trump, Zuckerberg made a remarkably low joke about the notion that “fake news” was spreading. Facebook could have influenced the 2016 election, calling it “a pretty crazy idea”. A week later, he returned to the comment. Since, Facebook released a series of mea culpas for being slow to act on threats to the 2016 election and vowed to do better.
“I don’t think they’re listening better,” said David Kirkpatrick, author of a book on Facebook The Rise. “What has changed is that more and more people are telling them that they have to do something.” The company hired external auditors, added restrictions – and then more restrictions – on political ads, and removed thousands of accounts, pages and groups that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” It’s Facebook’s term used to refer to fake accounts and groups that maliciously target political discourse in countries ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe.
It has also started adding warning labels to messages containing misleading voting information and has sometimes taken steps to limit the flow of misleading messages. In recent weeks, the platform has also banned posts that deny the Holocaust and has joined Twitter by limiting the broadcast of an unverified political story about Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, published by the conservative New York Post.
All this undoubtedly puts Facebook in a better position than four years ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s fully prepared. Despite tightened rules prohibiting them, violent militias still use the platform to organize. Recently, that included a foiled plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.
In the four years since the last election, Facebook’s revenue and user growth have skyrocketed. This year, analysts expect the company to make $ 23.2 billion in profits on revenues of $ 80 billion, according to FactSet. It currently has 2.7 billion users worldwide, up from 1.8 billion at that time in 2016
- Critical outsiders, as well as some Facebook’s own employees, say the company’s efforts to revise its rules and tighten its safeguards remain woefully inadequate, despite having spent billions on the project. As to why, they point to the company’s continued reluctance to act decisively for much of this period.
- East Facebook really ready for the 2020 election?