Facebook Issues to Consider for upcoming Midterm Elections

As the November midterm elections draw close, societal media firm Facebook has begun trying to crack down on”misinformation” on the platform as well as focusing on platform safety, an area which its had problems with recently. Breitbart News has compiled a record of quite a few methods by that Facebook’s issues could influence the November midterm elections.

1: Impersonation of Politicians and Political Groups

The issue that Facebook is now facing is within their own”Paid For” feature on political commercials, originally designed to provide more clarity about who was funding political advertisements on the stage, the feature has caused more confusion because it can be easily manipulated.

A recent report from Vice News showed how readily Facebook’s new political advertisements tools could be manipulated with little to no verification by Facebook. The social networking giant added a compulsory”Paid For” disclosure to political ads in May, which aimed to provide additional clarity to the source of political advertisements on the site. Instead, it appears that this mandatory field may be used to spread misinformation.

Vice first successfully placed advertisements on Facebook with the name of a variety of notable political figures and groups including Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, as well as the terrorist group ISIS. All these ads were approved by Facebook together with the names of those political figures and groups contained within the”Paid For” disclosure.

Now Vice News has shown once again how readily the political advertisements system can be fooled, this time by posing as all 100 U.S. senators and successfully conducting advertisements suggesting they were”compensated for” by each senator.

2: Facebook’s Election War Room

In an attempt to prepare themselves to the midterm elections, Facebook has developed a”War Room” to try and cope with election-related problems as they appear. An article printed in the New York Times titled”Inside Facebook’s Election’War Room”’ provides a unique insight into Facebook’s preparations ahead of forthcoming elections. The article starts by describing Facebook’s War Room and describing it’s use by the firm:

Though it isn’t much to check at now, as of next week that the space will be Facebook’s headquarters for safeguarding elections. More than 300 people across the business are working on the initiative, however, the War Room will house a group of about 20 focused on rooting out disinformation, tracking false news and deleting bogus accounts that may be attempting to influence voters before elections in the United States, Brazil and other countries.

“We view this as probably the largest companywide reorientation since our shift from computers to cellular phones,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, who directs Facebook’s elections and civic engagement group.

The article further explains the way the War Room operates saying:

The War Room is a”proactive” way to build systems in anticipation of attacks, Greg Marra, a product manager working on Facebook’s News Feed, said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Among the tools that the company is introducing is custom software that helps track information flowing across the social network in real time,” said Mr. Chakrabarti, who joined Facebook about four decades back from Google.

These dashboards resemble a pair of line and bar charts, with data that provide a view into how action on the platform is changing. They allow workers to zero in on, say, a specific false news story in broad circulation or even a spike in automated accounts being generated in a distinct geographical location.

However, the War Room could easily become a weaponized instrument by Facebook should they choose to try to change votes in a certain direction, this could be done by simply stopping the spread of specific data or deleting or eliminating entire pages or accounts. These practices can be seen in the next point

3: Shutting Down Political Dissidents

Facebook recently blacklisted accounts and pages in the”primary network of service” for right-wing Brazilian Presidential Candidate Jair Bolsonaro less than a week before Brazil’s runoff election lately. Reuters reported that Facebook shut down 68 pages and 43 reports connected to the Brazilian marketing group Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA) for violating the website’s rules related to spam.

The Brazilian paper O Estado de S. Paulo has promised that the advertising team has been one of the biggest support networks for right-wing Brazilian Presidential Candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Facebook said that RFA generated Facebook pages using multiple accounts or fake accounts with the same name and posted multiple clickbait style links which lead to”ad-farming” websites.

Facebook stated in a statement:”Our decision to eliminate these pages was based on the behavior of these celebrities — such as using fake accounts and repeatedly posting spam — rather than on the type of content they have been submitting.”

Facebook has claimed that the elimination of RFA’s pages and accounts had been a part of many actions they have taken”to prevent bad actors from interfering with Brazil’s elections Facebook.”

While many may think that such activities would never be taken in the USA, Facebook recently blacklisted the right-wing category known as the Proud Boys and their founder Gavin McInnes.

Company Insider reported lately that Facebook prohibited Gavin McInnes, along with certain accounts connected to the Proud Boys, the company founded by McInnes. On Tuesday, social media users started reporting that reports linked to members of their group were being removed from Facebook, today the company has confirmed that they are banning accounts linked to the Proud Boys and Gavin McInnes from Facebook and Instagram, citing the platform’s principles against hate groups as its purpose for doing so.

We ban these organizations and individuals out of our platforms and also remove all praise and support once we become aware of it. We will continue to review content, Pages, and people that violate our policies, take action against hate speech and hate organizations to help keep our community safe.”

4: Mark Zuckerberg Has Vowed to Crack Down on “Hate Speech”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently that the upcoming U.S. midterm elections will be”a true test” of the organization’s ability to crack down on”hate speech” and misinformation.

The Hollywood Reporter stated in an recent post which Facebook will create its biggest increase in cash spent to fight”hate speech” and misinformation on its stage this year, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg stated that despite Facebook’s increased cost, the company still will not be “dialed in as well as everyone wants us to be,” in relation to security and influence campaigns on the stage.

Zuckerberg said that the coming midterm elections will be”a real test” of their newly implemented guards designed to protect the system out of”bad actors,” following reports of numerous foreign influence campaigns on the social networking website. Zuckerberg said that during the upcoming election, the stage will see”all of the good and bad that humanity can do,” but the social networking platform is getting better at concealing the”bad stuff” from consumers.

Zuckerberg stated that the social networking company will”never be ideal” at protecting users data — a problem that Facebook has had extensive problems with over the last year. The CEO stated that there’s no”silver bullet” that would fix the issue of user data flows.

5: User Information Vulnerabilities

Facebook has confronted numerous user data leaks and breaches over the past year, from the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March that saw the private details of 87 million Facebook users left exposed to the organization’s latest statistics breach in October which the firm claims were nearly undetectable. During an Advertising Week panel in October Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson explained that the company’s latest user data breach that affected the balances of 50 million people was a”sophisticated attack.” Everson stated:”This was an attack, an attack that would require people to comprehend three distinct bugs.”

Everson farther said that the Turks were like an”odorless, weightless intruder who walked in” that could only be detected by Facebook” once they made a certain movement.” The security bug reportedly related to a vulnerability in Facebook’s” perspective as” attribute which allowed users to see exactly what their particular Facebook profile would look like to someone else. These security tokens are similar to digital keys which keep users logged in to Facebook so that they do not have to re-login whenever they visit the site.

It afterwards came to light that the same security tokens could be used to access accounts of sites which use the”Facebook Login” feature. This means that any third-party program that uses the”Facebook Login” feature could be at risk, such as apps such as Instagram, Tinder, Airbnb and many others. Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of product management, stated in the blog post showing the bug:”The vulnerability was on Facebook, but these accessibility tokens enabled someone to use the account as though they were the account-holder themselves”

Discussing the rise in user data leaks, Everson stated:”Here is the most significant cultural change: Recognizing our responsibility, taking quite particular actions and doing everything we can.” Everson also discussed WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton’s recent critical remarks about Facebook saying that she’d love to”hear more about their philanthropy.”

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