Facebook Wants to Combat Public Opinion Manipulation

In a declaration issued less than six months ago, Mark Zuckerberg disagreed with the theory that Facebook influenced the outcome of the United States presidential election. Now, the company started a campaign which aims to prevent information operators from further manipulating the population.

After initially denying getting involved into such affairs, Facebook now admitted that their service was used by governments to model the public opinion. Thus, they confirmed that certain interests used social media to exploit the population during, among others, the U.S. and France elections.

Facebook identified intense malicious activity during elections

The security team at Facebook issued a detailed report which documented the first organized attempt to use the service to misinform the population. These actions had a clear political purpose. Thus, the social media company decided to stop such actions and prevent information operators to further manipulate people.

Besides the widely discussed “fake news”, these malicious efforts include several other activities. Facebook discovered entire networks of fake profiles which were meant to spread fake information and change the view of the public. Thus, the Facebook security will keep an eye on such accounts, too, besides dealing with hacking, spam, or malware.

Usually, Facebook is the first platform people open, so this is where they take their news from. Moreover, around 170 million people living in North America use this social media service. This is why Facebook has been so blamed for spreading fake information among people.

Preventing information operators from manipulating the public opinion

During the U.S. presidential election, the platform came under harsh attacks when they did not remove the fake news that circulated regarding the two candidates. For instance, one piece of news claimed that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump. This got overly shared, but the information was erroneous.

Afterwards, Facebook revealed that they found certain accounts which dealt with spreading such articles full of fake information. They suggested that some stolen emails were also involved in these schemes, although they did not mention what emails they were referring to.

Also, Facebook did not mention anything of Russia being involved in these manipulation attempts during the U.S. election. However, the intelligence services discovered a link between these activities and Russian agents. The claim was that they acted on behalf of certain institutions of the state.

As the France election is approaching, Facebook closed around 30,000 accounts in France. They chose those accounts with a lot of exposure which delivered a high amount of information and had an intense activity.

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