The president’s post on Twitter added to the pressure that Facebook has been under, facing accusations of partisanship from both sides of the political aisle. The social network has been accused of spreading fake news that influenced the outcome of the presidential election last year, and more recently, it acknowledged that Russians used fake accounts and Facebook ads to push divisive issues during the campaign.
“Trump says Facebook is against him,” Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, said in a post addressing Trump’s tweet. “Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like.”
The accusations have left Facebook with something to prove: that it is ready for the next election.
“Every day I work to bring people together and build a community for everyone,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas.”
Zuckerberg expressed regret for initially appearing dismissive of his company’s potential effects on the 2016 election, saying that the topic was “too important.” But he also repeated a point he has made many times — that Facebook’s broader impact, “from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote,” had a much greater effect on the election than that of misinformation on the platform.
But Facebook does not want to appear caught off guard again. To spread a message that it is more election-ready, the social network earlier Wednesday leaned on its experience in Germany, which re-elected Angela Merkel to a fourth term as chancellor on Sunday.
Facebook said that it had taken roughly a dozen significant steps to combat misinformation on its site before the German elections, including deleting “tens of thousands” of Facebook accounts that it had suspected of being fake.
“These actions did not eliminate misinformation entirely in this election — but they did make it harder to spread, and less likely to appear in people’s News Feeds,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy in Europe, said in a company blog post. “We learned a lot, and will continue to apply those lessons in other forthcoming elections.”
Facebook’s influence on elections has been a much-discussed topic, spurred by how the social network has turned over information to Congress and federal investigators — including Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election — about Russia-linked political ads.
The company has been trying to show that it is doing enough to combat misinformation and the misuse of its system in elections. Last week, Zuckerberg addressed his network of more than 2 billion people about the social network’s role in democracies, specifically mentioning the work the company was doing to prepare for the German vote.
“It is a new challenge for internet communities to deal with nation-states attempting to subvert elections,” Zuckerberg said. “But if that’s what we must do, we are committed to rising to the occasion. We are in a new world.”
Among the list of actions Facebook took in Germany, the company said, was the installation of programs to show people news articles offering different points of view on key issues. Facebook invited German news outlets into its Berlin offices to film broadcasts on its Facebook Live video service to report on the outcome of the election. And Germans who clicked on articles about the election on Facebook were given a list that laid out the positions of major political parties running for office.
That Facebook’s influence did not heavily distort the German elections may also have been the result of other factors. Germans, like many regulators in the European Union, remain wary of abuse of their personal information and are far more suspicious of social media than Americans. While 8 out of 10 Americans get their news from Facebook, only 5 out of 10 people do in Germany, according to figures gathered by the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, or Foundation for New Responsibility. Of those Germans polled, only 6 percent said that Facebook was their main source of news.
Television — particularly the country’s two public broadcasters — remains the most popular and trusted source of news for a majority of Germans, according to the foundation.
Although some examples of fake news did emerge during the German election, they were quickly identified and debunked. Many of the leading news outlets organized fact-checking teams that examined the news and traced the sources for any material that seemed inflammatory or that had been flagged by the public.
According to Alexander Sängerlaub, who led the foundation’s project for identifying fake news, stories that were discovered to be fake had largely been generated by individuals or organizations associated with the country’s far-right and populist movements. But when stories were found to have been fabricated or false, it proved harder to debunk them than it had been to circulate them, he said.
Zuckerberg, in his announcement last week, said Facebook would work to be more transparent about the sources of political advertisements on the network, building tools to show users where the ads they see come from.
Zuckerberg may have been attempting to pre-empt congressional overtures toward regulation; currently, digital political advertisements seen on Facebook and other sites are not regulated, a stark contrast to television, print and radio political ads.
In 2011, Facebook lobbied the Federal Election Commission for an exception that would not require the social network to carry disclaimers on political ads on its platform, according to FEC documents reported on by CNN. Such disclaimers are a regular part of political advertisements on traditional media.
“Facebook’s moves in European elections present as positive and I’m sure are appreciated globally,” said Jason Kint, chief executive of Digital Content Next, a publishing industry trade organization. “But considering where we’ve been the past 18 months with Facebook’s denials and lack of transparency, everything must be considered a public relations play until we know a lot more.”
Source : http://www.ajc.com/news/facebook-responds-trump-and-positions-itself-election-ready/y9xSdzJT7flNpJxdESA5jN/