With major elections looming in the United States and Brazil, Facebook is praising its own efforts to curb fake news and political misinformation.
To that end, the tech titan invited members of the news media into its “war room,” this week.
Opened in September, the physical room is located in Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters and brings together about 24 experts from the company’s threat intelligence, data science, software engineering, research, community operations and legal teams.
Tasked with tackling various safety and security issues, the team oversees a broader staff of roughly 20,000, according to Samidh Chakrabarti, director of product management and civic engagement, Facebook.
To prep for likely threats from foreign interference in voter suppression campaigns, the team has engaged in mock scenario-planning since September.
The team was recently tested during the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections, during which it detected a false post claiming that Brazil’s Election Day had been moved from October 7 to October 8, due to national protests.
When the false claim began to trend, Facebook’s team took notice and removed it within an hour of its original posting.
To track such abuses, Facebook also relies heavily on its machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, which is getting better at blocking and disabling fake accounts.
Beyond Facebook’s flagship property, that technology has helped WhatsApp remove hundreds of thousands of spam accounts leading up the final round of Brazil’s presidential elections.
The Facebook unit is also working with fact-checkers in Brazil, such as Projeto Comprova, a consortium of over 24 news organizations, as well as large publishers like Globo, Folha, Estadao, and Aos Fatos.
More than 100,000 messages have been received, collectively, by fact-checkers during the election period, according to internal figures. In addition, Facebook launched a public education campaign -- “Share Facts. Not Rumors” -- to reach millions of Brazilians with tips on how to spot fake news and prevent its spread.
Facebook is also increasingly aligning with law enforcement in countries where platform abuse is rampant.
In Brazil, the company estimates it has engaged in roughly 1,400 police, prosecutors and judicial authorities across 10 cities and 600 authorities at electoral courts on the right procedures for requesting information during their investigations.
Because WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, this information is limited and does not include messages, Chris Danials, vice president, WhatsApp, is careful to point out..