Zuckerberg outlines Facebook’s strategy to fight the election meddling

A giant logo is seen at the Facebook headquarters in London, Uk, 4 December 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville – RC140919E620

Facebook is now struggling with the problems of Mark Zuckerberg never envisioned when he launched the social network in 2004. The CEO he has a lot of the last year apologizing for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and a range of issues around misinformation, false statements, misuse of data, and Facebook’s role in the 2016 election.

He went on a apology tour throughout the country, testified before Congress, and has now announced that the first in a series of notes to explain Facebook countless problems and what the company is doing.

Today’s topic is the election failure on the platform. Much of the Zuckerberg 3000 word post covers the same talking points Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave during Congressional testimony last week along with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Still, Zuck writes honestly about the width and depth of Facebook’s security problems when it comes to the platform larger role in modern elections.

The note covers five priority areas: fake accounts, false information, advertising, transparency and control, an independent election investigation by the commission, and how the social giant is aligning with governments and other companies.

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“In 2016, our election to the security prepared us for the traditional cyber-attacks, such as phishing, malware, and hackers. We adopted and brought to the notice of the government and the affected people”, wrote Zuckerberg. “What we had not expected were the foreign actors, the launch of the coordinated information operations by networks of fake accounts to spread division and disinformation. Today, Facebook is better prepared for this type of attack.”

Fake Accounts

On the fake account front, Zuckerberg returns to one of his often used response in the course of April the congress testimony. Facebook makes use of a version of what it calls the artificial intelligence for all of the mark of false news to detect offensive memes, and Zuck said Facebook’s machine learning systems have blocked more than a billion fake accounts in total, and millions more every day.

He called the detection of the bulk creation of fake accounts an “arms race”, and said, it is still difficult to identify advanced actors who build fake account networks manually or co-opt legitimate accounts as part of a coordinated post-boosting campaigns. To this end, the company has a doubling of the safety and security of the team in the past year from 10,000 to more than 20,000 employees.

Zuckerberg talked about the “trial and error” Facebook has gone through in trying to improve the fake account identification process, from marking and examining to takedowns and the notification of authorities and users. He called specific campaigns linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm, propaganda accounts linked to Iranian state media, and fake account networks shut down in Brazil and Myanmar.

Wrong information

Zuckerberg spoke not so much about details about fake news, but categorized the spread of misinformation in three ways—by fake accounts, spammers (where Facebook’s strategy is to be the reduction of the economic incentives by blocking spammers make ad money), and users who are not aware that they are sharing false information.

“Beyond the elections, misinformation that could lead to real world violence is one of the most difficult things we have faced,” wrote Zuckerberg. “In places where viral false information can contribute to violence that we take now. In other cases, we focus on reducing the spread of viral disinformation instead of removing it outright.”

While he was not at all about WhatsApp specificially, the Facebook-owned messaging app has perpetuated fake child abduction rumours in India that led to mob murder in rural villages. WhatsApp has since restricted forwarding of messages.

About how ordinary users perpetuate fake news, Zuck talked about Facebook ‘ s use of human fact-checkers certified by the non-partisan International fact-Checking Network (IFCN). Messages evaluated as false, are degraded and lose on average 80 percent of their future views, ” he wrote. However, Facebook is fact-checking has problems in that “partisan” front, recently the highlight of a story is not good as false after a fact-check of a conservative magazine with IFCN approval.

Ads, Independent Committees, and the Coordination

Facebook’s new political advertising authentication policy is widely known. Zuckerberg stressed that users can now see when an ad is paid for by a PAC or a third group, and anyone with political or issue advertisements in the US must now verify their identity and location. He also spoke to now, these new transparency tools can help journalists, watchdogs, academics and others to report abuse and political advertisers responsible.

Interestingly, Zuckerberg said Facebook initially talked about the prohibition of political advertising, but said that the decision not to do so was not motivated by ad revenue.

“Initially, this seemed simple and attractive. But we decided against it—not because of the money, as this new verification process is costly and so we no longer have to make a clear profit on political advertising—but because we believe in giving people a voice. We didn’t want to take away an important tool, many groups use to engage in the political process,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg also detailed Facebook independent election investigation of the commission, announced in April to study exactly what is the role of Facebook has on the elections. Of course, he said this time, there are still a lot more control over what information the researchers have.

Finally, the post covers how Facebook works together with governments and other companies in the stop of the election interference campaigns. The tl;dr is that Facebook is still a lot of problems in this area. Zuck said, closer co-ordination would be very useful, and the “real tensions still exist” between working with governments and police in order to exchange information.

Ultimately, Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s progress in identifying and removing fake accounts ahead of the elections in Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, and the state of Alabama, and they are foreign election influence campaigns of Russia and Iran. But he also said: “we are faced with sophisticated, well-funded opponents. They will not give up, they will continue to develop.”

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