Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Facebook vows to restrict users if elections end up in a chaos situation

 Facebook says it could aggressively restrict content if the US presidential election sparks violent unrest, according to the Financial Times. Global affairs head Nick Clegg told FT that Facebook was looking at “some break-glass options available to us if there really is an extremely chaotic and, worse still, violent set of circumstances.”

Clegg didn’t discuss what those options were. But he mentioned Facebook’s past use of “pretty exceptional measures to significantly restrict the circulation of content on our platform,” deployed in countries where there is “real civic instability.” An unnamed source said the company had modeled 70 election outcomes and how to respond to them, relying on staff, including “world-class military scenario planners.”

The company’s efforts also extend beyond American politics, including a push to detect and remove hate speech before Myanmar’s elections this fall.

However, Facebook has repeatedly failed to restrict content that promotes violence or misinformation. A recent New York Times report found that QAnon conspiracy theorists flourished on the platform despite attempts at a crackdown. Its focus on Myanmar comes after military officials used Facebook to foment genocidal violence against the country’s Rohingya minority. And it didn’t remove a self-proclaimed militia event that users accurately warned might lead to violence — something CEO Mark Zuckerberg later called an “operational mistake.”

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