Arnon Dror | Facebook Policies
Arnon Dror looks into the various efforts made by Facebook to increase transparency among users after the company came under fire for suspected interference by Russia in the 2016 elections through the social media platform. In reaction to such allegations, Facebook Inc. share prices took an abrupt plunge from $217 to $171 per share.
Many companies and organizations have their own Facebook pages where they disseminate information and interact with followers. Arnon Dror states that some such pages with political leanings in the United States and other countries, have been found to be started, run, or highly influenced by Russian users while others had begun as ordinary fan pages of celebrities and pop culture sub-genres, and later converted into pages with a political agenda once they have garnered a substantial pool of members. In other cases, there has been proof of the use of robots and paid trolls to fuel the fires of political unrest. Yet in other cases, celebrity influencers are recruited to use their fame to share false news and diversionary information online. Image Source: InformationWeek
Such questionable tactics constitute only the ones that have been covered so far.
In a statement on August 10, Facebook said that implementing a two-factor authorization process would make it harder for users to administer an organization’s Official Facebook Page using a fake or “compromised” account. In addition, Facebook will be confirming the primary location of pages and their administrators’ accounts. Further, the Info and Ads section of pages will reveal whether a group’s page has been merged with another group. The Info and Ads section is a recent feature that offers more transparency about ads running on Facebook as well as Instagram and Facebook’s Messenger service.
The problem of pushing political agendas using false news and anti-intellectualism is not limited to the United States. In parallel with these efforts, Arnon Dror notes that Facebook has also partnered with Vera Files along with local media organizations in different countries in an attempt to identify and reduce the reach of false information.
Under pressure from senate hearings last September in which US political ads paid in Russian Rubles were called into question, Facebook later said that it identified about 500 “inauthentic” accounts that were responsible for about $100,000 worth of ads that it believes had ties to Russia. Earlier this year, Facebook also said that it deleted hundreds of accounts and pages associated with a “troll factory” indicted by U.S. prosecutors for fake activist and political posts leading up to the 2016 U.S. elections.
In its recent statement, Facebook said it intended to improve the reliability of the information on public profiles that have “a large audience in the United States.””Our goal is to prevent organizations and individuals from creating accounts that mislead people about who they are or what they’re doing,” Facebook said.
Facebook must walk a fine line between collecting ads revenue, and ensuring the safety of its users from predatory groups with ulterior motives, be they politically or commercially motivated. Meanwhile, analysts say that Facebook’s stock prices will bounce back in time from the knee-jerk reaction of the market. Currently, it sits at around $180 per share.