Facebook’s Preparations for UK Election

With the UK potentially set for a general election this December, Facebook has prepared additional measurements to help tackle the issue of false advertisements and misinformation from reaching the country’s voters.

Studies have shown that social media will be the third largest channel for advertisements this year. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the social networking company is tightening its reigns on the spread of misinformation circulating around its platform.

Facebook’s vice president of policy solutions Richard Allan, has stated plans for the expected UK election in a Daily Telegraph article. Mr Allen states through his piece that “The world over, election campaigns are now played out as much on social media as they are on the doorsteps, in our newspapers and on TV screens.” And further that:

“Most of this activity is good for democracy as voters have new ways to share information and express their views. Candidates can get their ideas out to those who follow their pages or by using paid advertising to reach a wider audience.”

However, Mr Allen also recognises “social media can bring significant new risks to the political process. People who want to interfere unlawfully with the outcome of an election will use every available means to try and do so, including platforms like ours.”

One of the main improvements Facebook is making to prepare for the next UK election is to reduce the amount of misinformation that is spread around the platform. Part of these preparations that Facebook are taking on to do this include a partnership with Full Fact; a London-based charity fact checker involved in both checking and correcting false information.

Facebook has also been revealing the identities of fake accounts and shutting them down whilst also removing pages and groups that Mr Allen depicts as “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Involving groups of people who create a network of fake profiles that spread misinformation and mislead other users.

The online social media platform are also pushing for more transparent political advertisement. Those wanting to post advertisements of a political nature will have to go through a verification process to prove their identity. When a political ad has been approved, whoever has paid for it will be attached to this advertisement, which is visible to all of Facebook’s users.

The same verification process will also be applied to all those wanting to advertise on the following social issues:

  • Environment
  • Immigration
  • Health

Mr Allen has also stated that improvements will also be made to Facebook’s Ad Library, giving users access to what the different political parties are putting out there onto the social media platform. In addition to this, Facebook will also be attempting to stop harassment and hate speech of the political candidates.

These new preparations could help to significantly reduce the spread of misinformation to voters throughout the UK, Mr Allen commenting Facebook is “confident that we’re better prepared than ever.”