Facebook Will Hire 1,000 People To Fight ‘Election Interference’

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Earlier today, Facebook handed over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators that were bought by a Russian company which intelligence agencies have said were meant to influence U.S. politics. In their “fight” to combat “election interference,” they will also hire 1000 more people to monitor online activities on the social media giant’s site.

According to Tech Crunch, Facebook also announced specifics of how it will implement changes to its advertising systems in order to thwart abuse and specifically election interference that CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised last week. Zuckerberg also later asked for forgiveness for how his products have been used to “divide people.”

“Many appear to exploit racial and social divisions and exploit ugly stereotypes. We find this interference deeply offensive” a Facebook spokesperson wrote this morning. Facebook will make it possible for anyone to see ads on Facebook going forward.  Right now, most only see the ads targeted by the social media giant specifically for them.

The additional 1000 people will be used to review global ads. Zuckerberg is fairly clear that he’s concerned with the ads on his site contributing to “election interference” specifically by the Russians.  Tech Crunch says, that the changes should” boost the integrity of Facebook’s ad systems” and “prevent some of the abuse” that plagued the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook has also said that it plans to share the 3,000 ads with the congressional investigators this morning. “This manipulation runs counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything they stand for,” Facebook wrote.  It is especially distressing that people tried to use our products to maliciously influence our election and divide us as a country.” The ads have all been since taken down.

Facebook has also identified 5 key things that they think will help prevent “election interference” in the future. Here is the list as described by Tech Crunch. 

1. Making advertising more transparent

“We believe that when you see an ad, you should know who ran it and what other ads they’re running – which is why we show you the Page name for any ads that run in your feed. To provide even greater transparency for people and accountability for advertisers, we’re now building new tools that will allow you to see the other ads a Page is running as well – including ads that aren’t targeted to you directly. We hope that this will establish a new standard for our industry in ad transparency.

We try to catch content that shouldn’t be on Facebook before it’s even posted – but because this is not always possible, we also take action when people report ads that violate our policies. We’re grateful to our community for this support, and hope that more transparency will mean more people can report inappropriate ads.”

2. Strengthening enforcement against improper ads.

“We use both automated and manual review, and we’re taking aggressive steps to strengthen both. Reviewing ads means assessing not just the content of an ad, but the context in which it was bought and the intended audience – so we’re changing our ads review system to pay more attention to these signals. We’re also adding more than 1,000 people to our global ads review teams over the next year, and investing more in machine learning to better understand when to flag and take down ads. Enforcement is never perfect, but we will get better at finding and removing improper ads.”

3. Tightening restrictions on advertiser content

“We hold people on Facebook to our Community Standards, and we hold advertisers to even stricter guidelines. Our ads policies already prohibit shocking content, direct threats, and the promotion of the sale or use of weapons. Going forward, we are expanding these policies to prevent ads that use even more subtle expressions of violence.”

4. Increasing requirements for authenticity

“We’re updating our policies to require more thorough documentation from advertisers who want to run US federal election-related ads. Potential advertisers will have to confirm the business or organization they represent before they can buy ads. As Mark said, we won’t catch everyone immediately, but we can make it harder to try to interfere.”

5. Establishing industry standards and best practices

“In order to fight threats like these, we’re all going to need to work together. We are reaching out to leaders in our industry and governments around the world to share information on bad actors and make sure they stay off all platforms.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has officially invited Facebook — along with other tech companies, including Twitter and Google — to formally testify about the roles their platforms played in last year’s election at a public hearing on November 1. The House hopes to hold its own hearing in October but has not announced a date or invited any witnesses to appear

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