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Facebook moves to curb election misinformation

August 13, 2020

Facebook has announced measures to combat misinformation during the US election season. Social media giants are under pressure to do more to tackle fake news on topics ranging from voting to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Facebook logo before the words reading "fake news"
Image: imago images/ZUMA Wire

The US-based social media giant Facebook on Thursday began rolling out new measures in the US to guard against election-related misinformation. Ahead of the November 3 vote, users may begin seeing labels under posts about the election directing them to authoritative information on the topic.

The launch of the Voting Information Center comes as Facebook and other social media platforms continue to face criticism over their lax approach to handling misinformation about elections and other topics. Facebook established a similar information hub for coronavirus-related news.

Read more: Spread of coronavirus fake news causes hundreds of deaths

Combating mail-in ballot misinformation

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many voters in the US will be submitting their ballots by mail for the first time. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized voting by mail, claiming without evidence that the practice is susceptible to fraud. In July, Facebook began adding links to posts about in-person and mail-in balloting by politicians, including Trump.

Social media: Fake news and propaganda?

Facebook expects their election information hub to reach around 160 million people in the US, or nearly one half of the country's total population, said the company's head of social impact, Emily Dalton Smith. The primary aim of the hub is registering people to vote, she added, but the information people see will change throughout the election season.

"This is a unique election and a unique election season," Smith said. "Certainly we have never gone through an election during a global pandemic."

Read more: Coronavirus prompts EU to curb spread of disinformation

Twitter tackles 'new and unique' election challenges

Fellow social media giant Twitter announced measures of its own to address the "new and unique challenges" presented by this year's election, particularly the spread of misinformation related to voting and mail-in ballots.

Twitter said the exact details of the measures are still being finalized, but they would include new tools, policies and voting resources. They are set to begin rolling the plan out next month.

Conspiracies, lies and the coronavirus 'infodemic'

dr/dj  (AP, Reuters)