The past few years there has been considerable change in focus dynamics of Facebook, launched as a place to meet old friends it is now more of a sales platform. From home appliances to large machinery, Facebook has promoted all.
Due to this there is a wide speculation on the use of the social media platform and the role it would play in the upcoming elections. The Indian states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are scheduled to go for polls during the year and soon the general elections would follow. Earlier, Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, mentioned that they are taking down pages that were targeting the US, one of them being Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA).
The social media giant had been slammed for major data breach scandal by Cambridge Analytica, a British firm linked to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This has made the company a little more alert and hence it has arranged technology tools like artificial intelligence and thousands of people to work on security as the company’s “major focus” this year is to protect the integrity of upcoming elections in several countries, including India, on its platform, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. Terming 2018 a “big year” for elections, Zuckerberg said Facebook was improving its security features to prevent trolls from spreading false information.
Mark Zuckerberg told yesterday during a conference call “During the US Senate Alabama special election last year, we had successfully deployed some new artificial intelligence (AI) tools that helped in removal of Macedonian trolls who were trying to spread information during the election. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review and we’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year,” Zuckerberg told reporters during a conference call yesterday.
“This is going to be a big year for elections ahead with the US midterms and elections in India, Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary and others. This is going to be a major focus for us,” he said.” There have been a number of important elections that we’ve focused on. A few months after the 2016 elections, there was a French presidential election and leading up to that we deployed some new AI tools that took down more than 30,000 fake accounts,” he said.
During the German elections, the company had created a new playbook for working with the local election commission that would share information on any threats received. He mentioned “We have more work to do here and we’re going to continue working very hard to defend against them. There’s the Mexican presidential election, there are big elections in India and Brazil as well as in Pakistan and Hungary and a number of other countries and the US midterms, of course,” he said.
The three different strategies Zuckerberg pointed were, Economic actors, who work basically as professional spammers; the second are governments trying to interfere in election process, and then the third is just polarisation and sometimes lack of truthfulness in what is described by the media.
He further said that “If we just make it so that the economics stop working for them then they’ll move on to something else. I mean, these are literally the same type of people who had been sending you Viagra e-mails in the ’90s. We can attack it on both sides. On the revenue side, we make it so that they can’t run the Facebook ad network,” he said.
With respect to spammers he mentioned that “In order to solve that, what we need to do is to identify these bad actors…What we need to do is to just track that really carefully in order to just be able to remove it from Facebook entirely”.
Zuckerberg had also said that some media organizations which are sanctioned news outlets are organizations completely owned, controlled and operated by the IRA. “So we take them down and treat that as a security issue,” he said.