21 May, 2020
Facebook is more prepared to deal with potential state-sponsored interference in the upcoming 2020 US presidential election than it was four years ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed in an interview.
The social media giant, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has been under heavy public scrutiny since the 2016 US presidential election. It was blamed for allowing disinformation campaigns – apparently created to secure Donald Trump’s victory – to spread.
Zuckerberg sounded pretty sure in an interview with the BBC that the upcoming US election will see attempts at interference, but said his company has learned a lot over the past four years, after an alleged army of Russian trolls was suspected of coordinated action on Facebook against Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton
“Countries are going to continue to try and interfere and we are going to see issues like that, but we have learnt a lot since 2016 and I feel pretty confident that we are going to be able to protect the integrity of the upcoming election,” Zuckerberg said.
He also sounded confident in naming the potential adversaries in this metaphorical “arms race” and claimed that fake news campaigns come from different state actors such as “Russia, or Iran, or in some cases China”.
The social media giant is faced with finding a fine line between allowing freedom of expression while also maintaining a platform that does not spread disinformation or cause harm to its users. In an attempt to stop misinformation trolls, at the end of 2019 Facebook removed multiple accounts from its platform, including “50 Instagram accounts and one account on Facebook that originated in Russia and focused primarily on the US”.
Despite Facebook’s assurances that accounts were deleted based on “coordinated inauthentic behavior” rather than the content they published, it faced a considerable amount of backlash from users who accused it of engaging in censorship.