FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc (FB.O)
warned on Monday that it could offer no assurance that social
media was on balance good for democracy, but the company said it
was trying what it could to stop alleged meddling in elections by
Russia or anyone else.
PHOTO: A giant logo is seen at Facebook's headquarters in
London, Britain, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
sharing of false or misleading headlines on social media has
become a global issue, after accusations that Russia tried to
influence votes in the United States, Britain and France. Moscow
denies the allegations.
the largest social network with more than 2 billion users,
addressed social media’s role in democracy in blog posts from a
Harvard University professor, Cass Sunstein, and from an employee
working on the subject.
wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh
the negatives, but I can‘t,” Samidh Chakrabarti, a Facebook
product manager, wrote in his post.
he added, has a “moral duty to understand how these technologies
are being used and what can be done to make communities like
Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.”
Facebook executives were already fanning out across Europe this
week to address the company’s slow response to abuses on its
platform, such as hate speech and foreign influence campaigns.
lawmakers have held hearings on the role of social media in
elections, and this month Facebook widened an investigation into
the run-up to Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership.
expressed Facebook’s regrets about the 2016 U.S. elections, when
according to the company Russian agents created 80,000 posts that
reached around 126 million people over two years.
company should have done better, he wrote, and he said Facebook
was making up for lost time by disabling suspect accounts, making
election ads visible beyond the targeted audience and requiring
those running election ads to confirm their identities.
and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O)
Google and YouTube have announced similar attempts at
said Facebook had helped democracy in ways, such as getting more
Americans to register to vote.
a law professor and Facebook consultant who also worked in the
administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, said in a
blog post that social media was a work in progress and that
companies would need to experiment with changes to improve.
test of social media’s role in elections lies ahead in March, when
Italy votes in a national election already marked by claims of
fake news spreading on Facebook.