These labels will be linked to a new voter information center similar to the one on Covid-19 which Facebook says has been viewed by billions of users around the world. The labels will read: “Visit the Voting Information Center for election resources and official updates.”Despite these efforts, Facebook continues to be the subject of much criticism for the way it handles disinformation around elections and other matters. The company has generally refused to verify advertisements from politicians, for example, and a two-year audit of its civil rights practices blamed the company for leaving the US elections “exposed to interference from the president and other people who seek to use disinformation to confuse and suppress the vote ”.
The effectiveness of these labels will depend on the ability of Facebook’s artificial intelligence system to identify which posts really need them, said Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If every post containing the word “vote” or “vote” gets an informational link, he says, “people will start to ignore those links.”
Facebook expects the voter hub to reach at least 160 million people in the United States, said Emily Dalton Smith, who is responsible for the company’s social impact. The main goal is to register people to vote, she said, but the information people see will change throughout the election season.
“This is a one-time election and a one-time election season,” she said. “Certainly we have never had an election during a global pandemic.
Other tech companies, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, have undertaken similar efforts around the November election. Twitter said it was working to broaden its policies to address “new and unique challenges” related to this year’s election, including misinformation around postal voting.
Looking ahead to November, Facebook said it was “actively speaking with election officials about the potential for disinformation about election results as an emerging threat.”
The company did not give details of the potential threats, but said that a protracted voting process where the results are not immediately clear “has the potential to be exploited to sow mistrust in the election result. “.
“We plan to tackle this issue by using the Voting Information Center and the US Election Summary in Facebook News to ensure people have easy access to the latest authoritative news and news on and after election night,” Naomi Gleit, vice president of product management and social impact, writes in a blog post.