Facebook Will Expand Systems to Fight Election-Meddling Globally

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is betting that the strategy it adopted to guard against meddling during the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections will work in other countries.

The company will be expanding initiatives to verify political advertisers, coordinate between teams and fact-check news around the world, it said in a blog post. Facebook currently employs 30,000 people to work on “safety and security,” three times as many as in 2017, when it discovered an extensive campaign by Russia to manipulate U.S. voters.

Facebook’s strategies have come under heavy criticism, given how severely the platform was abused ahead of the U.S. presidential elections. Its new fact-checking operation, which relies on third-party groups like Snopes and the Associated Press to identify stories as true or false, only scratched the surface of manipulative content. Now, it’s available in 16 languages and focusing more on photos and videos, the company said. The political ad verification system -- which in some cases had been easy to game and has blocked ads unrelated to politics -- will roll out in India, Ukraine and Israel ahead of their polls, then go global by June.

One major benefit of the newly adopted systems is transparency. People can see the ownership history of Facebook pages as well as spending by certain political groups. The company says it knows the processes need tweaking, just as its adversaries will continue to come up with new ways to manipulate elections.

“We will never stop all the bad actors, but we’re making real progress, and we are committed to continuing to improve,” Facebook said in its blog post.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.