Facebook to clamp down on misinformation ahead of US election


File: On July 24, US regulators fine Facebook a record $5 billion for data protection violations.

AFP/Justin Sullivan

SAN FRANCISCO - Facebook has announced steps to combat misinformation and voter suppression ahead of the November 2020 US presidential election.

Facebook said it would increase transparency through measures such as showing more information about the confirmed owner of a Facebook page and more prominently labeling content that independent fact-checkers have marked as false.

The social media giant has come under fire in recent weeks over its policy of exempting ads run by politicians from fact-checking, drawing ire from Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

READ: Facebook extends fact-checking programme to 10 new African states

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the policy, saying social media had introduced transformative avenues for speech that should not be shut down.

The company will start labeling state-controlled media on its page and in the site's ad library. In a blog post, Facebook said it planned to expand this labeling to specific posts on both Facebook and Instagram early next year.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the video-streaming service of Alphabet's Google, all recently came under scrutiny after showing ads from Chinese state-controlled media that criticised Hong Kong protesters.

READ: Facebook takes down spam pro-Trump pages

An online library of political ads was launched in 2018, but the database has been criticised by researchers as being poorly maintained and failing to provide useful ad targeting information.

The company plans to heighten protection of the Facebook and Instagram accounts of candidates, elected officials and their teams through a programme called Facebook Protect.

Participants in the programme will be required to turn on two-factor authentication and their accounts will be monitored for signs of hacking.