Not long after having removed around 700 fake pages and groups related to the Congress and the BJP, social media giant Facebook has now expanded its battle against fake news by setting up 40 teams comprising 30,000 people around the world as watchdogs for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Facebook has joined hands with seven Indian accredited fact-checking firms to keep an eye on content created in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Gujarati, along with English.
Facebook said its mission to clean up multiple platforms of any illegal activities for a fair conduct of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls began at least 18 months ago. The company is following a detailed plan, identifying key areas and prioritising major issues to work upon, Ajit Mohan, managing director and vice president of Facebook India said in a statement.
According to Mohan, the social media giant has identified blocking fake accounts and spread of fake news, attempts at foreign meddling, stopping abuse by domestic actors and checking inauthentic coordinated campaigns as their priorities in the run-up to the world's costliest elections.
Dozens of teams have been deployed inside and outside India to monitor and counter any such activities, he added.
The California-based company has also invited the Election Commission of India (ECI) on board, promising to train policymakers and their staff to improve cybersecurity.
"We recently joined other social media companies in a voluntary code of ethics for the general elections with the ECI. It includes measures like a dedicated communications channel for notice and take down after receiving valid legal order, processing of valid requests in the blackout period ahead of voting and voter education efforts. This builds on the ongoing dialogue we’ve had with the commission, as well as with the campaigns and political parties," Ajit wrote on his company blog.
Politically motivated ads will be under the radar this poll season as the company has developed "political ad transparency tools" to make sure that the users get to see who is behind a video advertisement they are watching. From now on, it will be impossible for anyone to run any ad related to Indian politics without confirming their true identity and location. The site will also run a disclaimer reading “Paid for by” or “Published by” revealing the producers of the ads.
Facebook will soon activate regional operations centres in Singapore and Dublin including data scientists and operations scientists to check on the misuse of the social media platform during the elections. More Artificial Intelligence features will be used to speed up the elimination of abusive content.
India, the largest democracy in the world, goes to the polls from April 11 in a general election spread over seven phases. The votes will be counted on May 23.