Fight against disinformation Serious allegations against Facebook.

Status: 16.09.2020 11:49 a.m..

Again, Facebook is under fire because the group is too hesitant to tackle disinformation. A former Facebook analyst reports that coordinated campaigns were tolerated on the platform.

An ex-employee of Facebook has made serious allegations: The company had failed in the fight against political manipulation, said data specialist Sophie Zhang in a paper that she wrote on her last day on Facebook and that was in part from “BuzzFeed” has been published. Zhang was fired from the US company earlier this month. “BuzzFeed” quotes a former Facebook employee who described Zhang as an absolute expert in analyzing disinformation.

According to her, Facebook ignored numerous fake accounts that were intended to influence elections or political processes in various countries. It found “several blatant attempts by foreign governments to abuse our platform on a large scale to mislead their own people,” wrote Zhang.

If Facebook reacted, then only hesitantly: According to Zhang, Facebook took action against a misleading campaign by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández after nine months. In her memo, the ex-employee also mentions attempted electoral influence in the USA and Brazil. In Azerbaijan, Zhang discovered that the ruling political party was using thousands of inauthentic profiles to harass the opposition.

Facebook began investigating the issue a year after Zhang reported it. The investigation is still ongoing.

Attempts to manipulate the pandemic.

According to his own statements, Zhang also discovered numerous attempts at manipulation around the pandemic: In Spain, fake profiles are said to have shared posts on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Health on a massive scale. As a result, 672,000 fake accounts “pursuing similar goals worldwide” were removed, including in the US.

Fact checks on the corona pandemic.

Zhang does not accuse Facebook of bad intentions, but instead observed during her two and a half years at the company that the failures were due to a lack of resources. Zhang wrote that priority would be given to the US and Europe in combating disinformation, while smaller states played little role. In addition, the company usually only reacts when there is public criticism in order to improve its own image.

Many refuted fakes not marked.

Facebook repeatedly emphasizes that it has stepped up efforts in the fight against disinformation and manipulation. Among other things, specialized teams have been formed that work together “with leading experts”.

However, research repeatedly shows that Facebook remains a hotspot for false reports, rumors and hateful content despite its efforts. By working with independent fact checkers, targeted false reports are refuted and marked, but often identical content remains on the platform without any indication.

How Facebook fails in the fight against hatred.

Militia organized itself via Facebook.

At the beginning of September, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg had to admit that the company had reacted too late to indications of a paramilitary group in the USA. Zuckerberg spoke of an “operational error”. The case concerned a group that had called for people to take up arms in Kenosha. Facebook only removed the page after two people were shot dead during protests in the city.

According to media reports, hundreds of users had previously reported the call on Facebook, which Zuckerberg also confirmed.

The case had further fueled the discussion about Facebook’s measures against attempts at manipulation around the US elections. Experts criticize that Facebook’s regulations are unlikely to curb the flood of disinformation. They warned of the potential impact on voter turnout and confusion over the results.

Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would stop accepting new political ads in the week leading up to the November 3rd US election. Experts rated this step as an admission that Facebook was unable to identify misleading content in good time and react to it in the last few days before the vote.

more on the subject.

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