Facebook to block false posts ahead of the 2020 US elections in new policy update

Facebook has announced a raft of new measures and policy changes intended to block false posts on the site ahead of the 2020 US elections. The social media giant has made the move in an attempt to diminish the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Facebook policy changes
Facebook has been criticized for its news policies previously. Photo: NeedPix.

Going forward, Facebook will clearly labelled false posts as such, along with content that has been created by state media. The definition of state media could cause controversy, however, and it will be intriguing to see precisely what Facebook puts in place in order to address this.

Iran and Russia

In a separate move, Facebook also removed four networks of accounts based in Iran and Russia, which the social media company accused of misleading users. According to Facebook, misleading information regarding the identities of these accounts was posted, while the accounts were also guilty of delivering inflammatory political messages.

Facebook has clearly made this decision in response to criticism of the platform. The social media site refused to send political adverts to fact-checkers, a decision which has drawn strong criticism. CEO of the company Mark Zuckerberg strongly defended Facebook’s policies in a speech recently, but many were unconvinced by its content.

Zuckerberg defends Facebook
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has robustly defended Facebook’s policies. Photo: Anthony Quintano via Flickr.

Facebook Protect

Changes made by Facebook also include a new project that the social media site describes as ‘Facebook Protect’. “Participants will be required to turn on two-factor authentication, and their accounts will be monitored for hacking, such as login attempts from unusual locations or unverified devices,” a company statement on this new initiative confirmed.

Facebook Protect addresses another area in which the social media leader has been criticized, with many industry observers believing that Facebook does too little to protect the accounts of users.

The removal of what Facebook described as four networks that had engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” will also draw a great deal of attention. The networks were linked to Russia and Iran, and Facebook confirmed that it had removed three networks of fake accounts and pages tied to the Middle Eastern country.

Facebook confirmed that the networks were removed based on behavioral factors, rather than due to content posted. But it will be viewed as an interesting response to accusations that Facebook allowed information emanating from Russian sources in particular to influence voters during the 2016 US election.

Facebook addresses state-owned media
State-related media such as Russia’s RT will now come under scrutiny on Facebook. Photo: Wikimedia.

Coordination issue

The level of coordination between the accounts was an apparent trigger for the ban, according to Facebook. There has been concern about coordinated activity between Iran, Russia and China in particular, with Zuckerberg stating that each of these countries has employed “sophisticated tactics” in order to interfere in elections.

Elsewhere, Facebook has even stated that it will ban ads that state that voting is pointless or that advise people not to vote. This could be considered a controversial move, considering that many constructive critics of various electoral systems believe that non-participation is a valid response that seeks to achieve long-term structural change.

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