After months of debate and disagreement over the handling of inflammatory or misleading posts from Donald Trump, Facebook employees want CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain what the company would do if the leader of the free world uses the social network to undermine the results of the 2020 US presidential election.
“I do think we’re headed for a problematic scenario where Facebook is going to be used to aggressively undermine the legitimacy of the US elections, in a way that has never been possible in history,” one Facebook employee wrote in a group on Workplace, the company’s internal communication platform, earlier this week.
For the past week, this scenario has been a topic of heated discussion inside Facebook and is now a top question for its leader. Some 2,900 employees asked that Zuckerberg address it publicly during a company-wide meeting on Thursday which is slated for 11 a.m. PT.
Zuckerberg’s expected remarks come amid growing internal concerns about the company’s competence in handling misinformation, and the precautions it is taking to ensure its platform isn’t used to disrupt or mislead ahead of the US presidential election. Though Facebook says it has committed more money and resources to avoid repeating its failures during the 2016 election, some employees believe it isn’t enough. President Trump has already spent months raising questions about the legitimacy of the upcoming 2020 election, spreading misinformation about mail-in ballots, and declining to say if he’d accept the possibility of losing to Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November.
In July, Trump told Fox News he wasn’t sure if he’d concede to Biden, casting doubt on whether there would be a peaceful transition of power if the former vice president wins the election. “I have to see. I’m not just going to say yes. I’m not going to say no,” the president said.
On Facebook’s internal message boards, discussion about the Trump election question remained civil prior to Thursday’s all-hands meeting. Employees debated the merits of censoring a sitting president’s potentially false statements about election results with one person noting that “it would be a really troubling policy to apply globally.”
“America can’t afford for Facebook to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the integrity of our democracy,” said Jesse Lehrich, a former foreign policy spokesperson to Hillary Clinton and cofounder of Accountable Tech, a nonprofit advocacy group. “Unless they proactively outline clear policies and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard the election, the platform will be weaponized to undermine it.” [Continue reading…]
Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of Donald Trump and QAnon supporters. It also removed thousands of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about coronavirus and protests in the U.S.
Facebook took down the accounts as part of its enforcement against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on social media.
The foreign pro-Trump troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on Instagram under names like “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and on Facebook under “We Love Our President.”
Troll farms — groups of people that work together to manipulate internet discourse with fake accounts — are often outsourced and purchased by foreign governments or businesses to push specific political talking points. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the troll farm’s motivations were unclear, but they didn’t see “clear evidence of financial motivation” or “clear links to known commercial actors in this space.”
Facebook stressed that the takedowns were based on “behavior, not content,” like breaking rules against creating fake accounts to boost engagement on some pieces of content. [Continue reading…]