Meta Platforms Inc. today revealed its plans for the upcoming U.S. midterm elections, telling everyone not to worry because it has a team of hundreds of folks working hard to ensure nothing happens that might taint the event.
Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said his large team will work around the clock to prevent any sketchy foreign bad actors promulgating divisive content on the platform, while Meta also intends to take down the predictable hate speech that colors social media during such fractious times. All this is part of the $5 billion budget that Clegg says the company has spent on safety and security in the last year.
“Our approach to the 2022 U.S. midterms applies learnings from the 2020 election cycle and exceeds the measures we implemented during the last midterm election in 2018,” Clegg said in a blog post. “This includes advanced security operations to fight foreign interference and domestic influence campaigns, our network of independent fact-checking partners, our industry-leading transparency measures around political advertising and pages, as well as new measures to help keep poll workers safe.”
Clegg said Meta has “exposed and disrupted” dozens of foreign influence operations that in the past have tried to interfere with U.S. elections. It wasn’t that long ago when millions of people saw ads bought by Russian bad actors trying to influence the American public, but according to Clegg, Meta is on the ball these days.
He said his new security team has taken down 270 white supremacist organizations, as well as 2.5 million pieces of content linked with organized hate on Facebook just in the first quarter of 2022. Some 97% of this content was taken down before anyone reported it, according to Clegg. “We’re also investing in proactive threat detection and expanding our policies to help address coordinated harassment and threats of violence against election officials and poll workers,” he added.
Whether Meta can fend off a flurry of nefarious foreign influence during election time remains to be seen, although according to reports – Meta’s own reports – it has been finding the trolls soon after they have begun their campaigns. Still, the company has just come under a barrage of criticism for how it handled, or didn’t handle, misinformation related to the recent elections in Brazil.
As Meta has done before, it will prohibit new political, electoral and social issue ads during the final week of the election campaign. Clegg said Meta will also try to help people register to vote by adding informational notifications to their feeds. This will include information on simply how, when and where to vote. This information might also be in another language than English if Meta’s algorithm detects that the user communicates in another language.
Meta has teamed up with 10 fact-checking companies to ensure no nonsense pervades Facebook, which may lead to warning labels at the bottom of posts. Clegg said Meta has just spent $5 million in “fact-checking and media literacy initiatives.” Clegg also reminded people that Meta will ask for transparency when it comes to buying and posting ads.
“Advertisers who run these ads are required to complete an authorization process and include a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer,” he said. “These ads are then stored in our publicly available Ad Library for seven years.”