Facebook’s owner, Meta, will devote “hundreds of people across more than 40 teams” to ensure the security and safety of the US midterm elections, Nick Clegg has said, despite criticism for dialing back its investment somewhat from 2020.
The company’s investment “exceeds the measures we implemented during the last midterm election in 2018”, added Clegg, Meta’s president for global affairs – although it was in 2020 when the company built its largest-ever election safety team.
“Our approach to the 2022 US midterms applies learnings from the 2020 election cycle,” Clegg wrote in a blogpost.
“This includes advanced security operations to fight foreign interference and domestic influence campaigns, our network of independent fact-checking partners, our industry-leading transparency measures around political advertising and pages, as well as new measures to help keep poll workers safe.
“As we did in 2020, we have a dedicated team in place to combat election and voter interference while also helping people get reliable information about when and how to vote.”
Many of the company’s policies are reruns of the last election. Facebook will again ban all new political, electoral and social issue adverts for the final week of the campaign. It will also again remove adverts – though not organic content – “encouraging people not to vote or calling into question the legitimacy of the upcoming election”.
It said it would also remove organic content that contains “misinformation about who can vote, whether a vote will be counted and qualifications for voting”.
In an effort to more accurately connect with bilingual Americans, Clegg said Facebook will also present voting information in two languages if the company thinks it will aid comprehension. “For example, if a person has their language set to English but is interacting with a majority of content in Spanish, then we will show the voting notifications in both English and Spanish,” Clegg wrote.
“Our work is not finished, there will be things we can’t predict, there will be things that go better and things that go worse,” Clegg told Bloomberg News. “One thing I can assure you certainly as long as I’m doing this job is I will be unflinching and self-critical as to whether we are doing the right thing in roughly the right order.”
Not mentioned in Clegg’s blogpost is another election safety decision: the choice to remove Donald Trump from Meta’s platforms, following his posts around the January 6 storming of the US Capitol. In June last year, Facebook set itself a deadline of 7 January 2023 for Trump’s suspension, committing to keeping him off the platform for at least two years, after the company’s quasi-independent oversight board refused to answer whether he should be permanently banned.
According to a report from Politico, Facebook intends to stick to that two-year minimum suspension, even if Trump officially announces his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. That would keep the former president off Facebook until after the midterms.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism