Facebook’s bid to save democracy
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Facebook’s bid to save democracy

FACEBOOK has received a lot of flack recently for their involvement in election tampering and dissemination of “fake news” in the lead up to polling days across the world. The problem has been pervasive and universal with no country immune to the power of social media and propaganda.

The social media giant’s vice-president of policy solutions, Richard Allen, was in London on Tuesday to answer questions from international delegates on the Facebook’s plans to tackle the dangerous trend and improve its assessment of incendiary or false posts.

According to Channel News Asia, Allen told members of the Singapore parliament that Facebook now sets up a “War Room” to monitor every “significant election”. These are task forces made up of specialists skilled in monitoring the risks of each individual election and deploying solutions to ensure minimal adverse impact on the vote.

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When asked if this would be deployed for all elections, globally, Allen said: “In an ideal world, it’s every election, everywhere, all of the time. Our current resourcing I think allows us to look at all national elections.”

“We are looking at every election whether the country is big or small, at a national level. And then the question is can we expand that also into regional and local elections.”

The company used the same method for the US midterms and the Brazil general elections in October, but have since closed the operation, claiming it was never designed to be permanent.


A still image taken from video footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) on November 27, 2018 shows Richard Allan, Vice President of Policy Solutions, Facebook, giving evidence before an ‘International Grand Committee.’ Source: Ho/AFP/PRU

Facebook is currently embroiled in an ongoing stream of controversy surrounding not just the use of its platforms to sway elections, but also its handling of user data and ill-advised campaigns against critics like billionaire philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros.

While the War Room earned it some favourable coverage when it was launched in October, analysts have questioned its efficacy after a “tsunami” of fake news plagued the Brazil elections.

recent report in Rolling Stone highlighted a growing perception that Facebook’s efforts have been arbitrary responses to outside political pressure.

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Despite their physical War Room being disbanded in the United States, Allen reassured the international hearing that due diligence and similar tactics would be deployed globally. But warned they couldn’t do it alone.

“The people who decide if an election is free and fair is you, and your authorities, and the political parties,” Allan told Singapore MP Pritam Singh. “We want to do whatever is necessary in order for everyone to have the confidence that the election is free and fair – and we can’t do that on our own.

“We can make tools, we can work with you, but ultimately we need to engage with you in order to meet that shared objective that we contribute to positively rather than negatively to the election in your country.”

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