Facebook is taking steps to slow 'spread of viral content' in anticipation of unrest on US election day
- Facebook is preparing specific measures to slow the "spread of viral content" in preparation for violence and unrest related to the election, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
- Last month, the company's head of global affairs told The Financial Times it planned to restrict content circulation in preparation for potential violence and unrest.
- Concerns for violence and voter intimidation are high with less than 10 days until the election, and state and city officials are preparing for potential unrest as security concerns arise.
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Facebook is preparing specific measures for potential unrest related to the election, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The social media tech giant plans to mitigate conflict by "slowing the spread of viral content," "tweaking the news feed to change what types of content users see," and "lowering the threshold" for what the software flags as harmful, people familiar with the decisions told the WSJ.
"We've spent years building for safer, more secure elections," a spokesperson for Facebook told Business Insider in a statement. "We've applied lessons from previous elections, hired experts, and built new teams with experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios. We've created new products, partnerships and policies — such as pausing post-election ads — to ensure we're more prepared than ever for the unique challenges of an election during a global pandemic."
Facebook's head of global affairs told The Financial Times last month the company had plans in preparation for unrest after the election but had not specified what measures would be intact. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said "this election is not going to be business as usual" and will take steps to "reduce the chances of violence and unrest."
Facebook announced early this month it will ban all political ads for an indefinite period after Election Day.
Election and security experts including the bipartisan Transition Integrity Project have warned the potential for violence is high in this coming election. State and city officials are preparing for potential unrest as concerns for security arise.
Meanwhile, armed extremist groups have signaled they would appear at polling sites on Election Day.
Critics have scrutinized Facebook for the way it responds to violent extremist groups, which often congregate on the social media platform. In August, Zuckerberg said the company was slow to take down a page that called for armed civilians to Kenosha, Wisconsin amid ongoing protests which Buzzfeed said was flagged to Facebook 455 times.
A Wall Street Journal analysis published this month said the company did not always enforce content policies regarding disinformation and hate speech it said it would implement.
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