Citizens in Mexico will head to their polling stations July 1 to vote in the country’s general election, which includes voting for a new president, and Facebook manager for politics and government, Latin America Diego Bassante detailed steps the social network is taking to help maintain the integrity of that process.
Verificado 2018, a fact-checking project led by Animal Politico, has been reviewing, verifying and classifying the accuracy of dozens of news stories published on Facebook since March, and Agence France-Presse will begin providing similar help this month.
Verificado 2018 and AFP are both part of Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, and the two organizations have also begun testing the process of fact-checking native photos and videos on the social network.
Bassante described how Facebook works with its fact-checking partners, via both artificial intelligence and human review:
- We use signals, including feedback from people on Facebook, to predict potentially false stories for fact-checkers like Verificado to review.
- When fact-checkers rate a story as false, we significantly reduce its distribution in News Feed—dropping future views on average by more than 80 percent. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.
- We also want to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust and share. When third-party fact-checkers write articles about the veracity of a news story, we show them in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. We also send notifications to people and page administrators if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false.
Other steps Facebook has taken to prepare for the July 1 vote include:
- Continuously sweeping the platform via automated tools and human reviewers to weed out illicit activity.
- Removing fake accounts that violate the social network’s terms of service.
- More than 200,000 fake likes have been removed from candidates’ pages, as Bassante noted that they can be used to artificially inflate the popularity of pages and boost their credibility.
- Dozens of accounts that impersonated candidates for office were removed.
- Admins of political pages in the country were invited to activate two-factor authentication.
Facebook has also been working with Mexico’s National Electoral Institute on steps including activating the social network’s civic products, livestreaming presidential debates via Facebook Live, sharing news integrity materials for distribution by the institute and training officials there and at the Federal Electoral Tribunal on how Facebook works.
The civic features that have been activated in Mexico include adding issue tabs to candidates’ pages so people can learn more about where they stand, as well as Ballot, a voter information center that allows users to see who is running for office, visit their pages and compare their views on important issues.
Facebook users in Mexico will also begin seeing an informed voter button, which will redirect them to the landing pages of electoral authorities, and, on election day, messages in their News Feeds prompting them to vote and linking to information on where they can do so.