The social networking site Facebook is setting up a crisis room or ‘war room’ in its headquarters in San Francisco, to immediately stop attempts at manipulating the elections.
“We are building a ‘war room’ in Menlo Park for the elections in Brazil and in the US,” according to Facebook elections and civic engagement director Samidh Chakrabarti said during a conference call. It was organized to give an update on the steps that Facebook has taken to limit manipulation of the elections through messages that are shared.
Facebook was criticized after the 2016 US presidential election that it had not taken any steps against ‘fake news’ (fake news) that was being distributed to manipulate the elections. According to the American intelligence services, the Russians were behind a large part of that manipulation, which often worked in favour of the then Republican candidate Donald Trump, and Facebook itself recently discovered such activities from Iran.
Facebook is permanently engaged in stopping campaigns with misleading or knowingly erroneous information and deleting false profiles and content, but the “war room” will allow for “in the worst case” decisions in real time, says Chakrabarti. For example, he refers to false reports in the presidential election that it was possible to cast your vote via SMS.
The new service must be operational against the elections in Brazil. The first round will take place there on 7 October. The mid-term elections in the US are for a month later, on 6 November.
Last week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a statement that Facebook is “better prepared” for fake news attacks. Yet “we are dealing with sophisticated opponents who are well sponsored. They will not give up and will continue to look for new ways.”