Facebook rejected more than two million ads for trying to ‘obstruct voting’ in the upcoming US presidential election, the company announced.
Some 2.2 million ads submitted to both Facebook and Instagram between March and September 2020 were blocked before they could run.
Warnings were attached to an additional 150 million native posts and at least 120,000 were taken down, according to former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, now Facebook’s VP of global affairs and communications.
Clegg said Facebook’s use of artificial intelligence has ‘made it possible to delete billions of posts and fake accounts, even before they are reported by users.’
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Facebook announced that it’s already registered 2.5 million new voters in advance of Election Day, part of its ongoing crusade against voter misinformation and disenfranchisement
The social media platform began working to defuse misinformation and voter manipulation efforts almost immediately after the 2016 election, when it was criticized for allowing coordinated campaigns to drive confusion among voters.
‘Thirty-five thousand employees take care of the security of our platforms and contribute for elections,’ Clegg told Agence France-Presse. ‘We have established partnerships with 70 specialized media, including five in France, on the verification of information.’
Facebook reports it identified and removed 30 networks it said were ‘engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, including foreign or government interference.’
On October 6, Facebook announced it would take down any accounts representing the conspiracy group QAnon, ‘even if they contain no violent content.’
Former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, now Facebook’s VP for global affairs and communications, says the platform rejected 2.2 million ads for ‘interfering with voting’ and slapped warnings on 150 million organic posts
More than 120,000 posts to Facebook and Instagram have been removed for violating voter interference policies, and over 150 million pieces of content received warnings after being debunked by Factcheckers
It’s also worked to remove calls by groups like the Proud Boys ‘ for people to engage in poll watching when those calls use militarized language or suggest that the goal is to intimidate, exert control, or display power over election officials or voters,’ the company said.
What is Facebook doing to protect the election process?
Screenshots from Facebook’s voting information hub.
• All new political ads on Facebook and Instagram banned a week from November 3 – but existing ones can stay be reused and re-targeted
• Posts with misinformation about voting or ‘implicit’ voter suppression are being removed
• Group forwarding on Facebook Messenger is suspended so users can only forward five messages at a time.
• Facebook’s voting info center will tell people ‘there is nothing illegitimate about not having a result on election night.’
• Anyone claiming election victory before it has been called by Reuters will have their post flagged with a link to the official results.
Not everyone appreciates the effort.
Last week, President Trump criticized Facebook for limiting the reach of a New York Post article alleging Hunter Biden arranged a meeting between Ukrainian energy officials and his father, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
A Facebook spokesman said it was ‘reducing’ the story’s distribution on the platform while a third-party fact-checker verified its allegations.
Progressives have criticized the site for censoring news stories, too.
Mark Zuckerberg gave the okay to alter Facebook’s news feed algorithm to reduce the presence of stories by left-leaning sites like Mother Jones, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to trying to stymie efforts at misinformation and intimidation, Facebook has been proactive in voter registration and education.
The company announced it September it had already registered more than 2.5 million Americans to vote.
It’s pinned voting information at the top of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and launched poll-worker recruitment drives to address shortages because of the pandemic .
New political ads will be banned between October 27 and November 3, though existing ones can stay be reused and re-targeted .
And anyone claiming victory before a race been called by Reuters will have their post flagged with a link to the official results.
‘This election is not going to be business as usual,’ Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said.
‘We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy.’