Facebook, Germany to fight election interference together

The partnership aims to combat creation of fake accounts, disinformation

Photo: EPA Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook will collaborate with German Federal Office for Information and Security ahead of the EU elections in May to combat fake accounts and misinformation. The project will also apply for India's general election that will begin in April. News was announced by company's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who noted that the project will also include other companies and research partners in order to "help guide policy making in Germany and across the EU on election interference."

As noted, the initiative will be similar to those the tech giant rolled out in the US, UK, and Brazil in 2018 and will not only crack down on fake accounts and fake news, but will also implement new rules for campaigns that are buying ads around this year's elections in India and the European Union. Specifically, it will require political advertisers to authenticate their identity before buying an ad. In Washington, this involves ad-buyers providing Facebook with their Social Security information, a copy of a government-issued ID and a US address.

The statement comes at a time when Facebook is still dealing with a lot of scandals and is facing harsh criticism for its handling of disinformation that was spreading on its platform in the run up to the 2016 US presidential election. Especially since in November, Facebook confirmed that more than 600,000 users in the US were following fake accounts created by a Russian troll group ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The accounts had previously gone undetected.

"At Facebook, these last few years have been really difficult," Sandberg confessed on Sunday. "We know we need to do better at making sure we can anticipate the risks that come from connecting so many people."

As part of these efforts, the platform has reportedly fixed how it shares user information and has beefed up its security team. Thus, 30,000 people are currently working in its safety and security department -  three times more than in 2017. 

"We have a lot of hard work to do," Sandberg said. "We are far from done, but we have a fundamentally different approach to how we run our company today."

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