01:39 GMT02 December 2020
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    Ever since being forced to fend off allegations of having allowed “foreign agents” to abuse its platform in an attempt to "manipulate" the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has pledged efforts to revise its rules and tighten its safeguards, insisting it would not be a “conduit for misinformation”.

    Ahead of the upcoming November presidential elections in the US, social media giants Facebook and Instagram have rejected around 2.2 mln ads and removed 120,000 posts for attempting to “obstruct voting”, reported AFP.

    Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg was cited by the French weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday as saying that in addition to this, 150 mln examples of false information posted online were flagged with appropriate warnings.

    “Thirty-five thousand employees take care of the security of our platforms and contribute for elections,” said Clegg.

    “We have established partnerships with 70 specialised media, including five in France, on the verification of information,” he added. "AFP is one of those partners."

    Clegg added that the company also uses artificial intelligence that has “made it possible to delete billions of posts and fake accounts, even before they are reported by users”.

    Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.
    © AP Photo / Ben Margot
    Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

    In order to “ensure transparency”, the platform stores advertisements and information on their origins and funding for seven years, added Clegg.

    ‘Integrity of Elections’

    Despite the company’s moves, announced by Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg in September 2020, to purportedly help secure the “integrity of the US elections” by connecting people to “authoritative information”, the social media giant has faced fierce criticism from senior Republicans and President Donald Trump.

    Recently, Facebook and Twitter tried to limit the spread of a New York Post expose on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden 's dealings with his son Hunter's business associates in Ukraine on social media, barring users from sharing it.
    Facebook had claimed the story needed to be fact-checked.

    Earlier this month, Facebook deleted a post by Donald Trump on the coronavirus where the president suggested the disease was "in most populations far less lethal" than the flu, with the platform claiming the post violated its policy on misinformation.

    'Fake News' Clampdown

    The recent statement by Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications comes as the American online social media and social networking service has touted its efforts to avoid a repeat of events dating to the 2016 US presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump.

    At the time, the platform was slammed with allegations of failing to clamp down on fake news stories and misinformation, as well as unproven claims that it was used for attempted voter manipulation, ostensibly “carried out from Russia”.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walk to their seats after arriving for the second presidential debate at Washington University, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis
    © AP Photo / Evan Vucci
    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton walk to their seats after arriving for the second presidential debate at Washington University, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis

    Similar claims surfaced ahead of Britain’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union.

    In 2016, while Clegg was Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he was cited by the Journal du Dimanche as deploring Facebook’s failure to identify or suppress any foreign networks allegedly interfering in the US election.

    In April 2017 Facebook had claimed in a white paper authored by the company’s security team that its platform had been used by governments in a bid to "manipulate public opinion" in other countries, including during the presidential elections in the US, as part of “information operations”.

    While not attributing the actions to any specific country, it claimed its own probe “does not contradict” the findings of a January 2017 “Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking”.

    This fed into the chorus of allegations of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election.

    While failing to find any substantive evidence of Russian meddling in the US elections process in 2016, some American officials resurrected the “bogeyman” and began alleging that Moscow was once again using a "range of measures" to interfere in the 2020 race, purportedly to "denigrate" Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

    Both in 2016 and now the Kremlin has dismissed the allegations as "nonsense".

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    Kremlin, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Nick Clegg, US Election 2020, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook
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