Working to Safeguard Elections in Thailand

By Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director and Roy Tan, APAC Politics and Government Outreach Manager

Protecting the integrity of elections while making sure people can have a voice in the political process is a top priority for Facebook. Learning from every election over the last two years, we have increased our capabilities to take down fake accounts, reduce false news, disrupt bad actors, support an informed and engaged electorate, and increase ads transparency.

Today, we are sharing more details on how we will protect the Thai elections in March.

Greater Transparency for All Ads

People can already see any ad a Page is currently running today in its ‘Info and Ads’ section — regardless of the nature of the ad, including those of an electoral nature. There, people can report an ad by tapping three dots in the top right corner and selecting “Report Ad.” This section also offers more information about a Page, like when it was created and its previous names. This helps people better understand the purpose for which the Page was originally created.

Restricting Foreign Electoral Ads

As part of our commitment to safeguard the integrity of elections, we will be temporarily expanding enforcement to not allow foreign electoral ads in Thailand in the lead up to the elections. This restriction is expected to take effect mid-February and will apply to electoral ads if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Thailand.

This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities which are of an electoral nature, meaning they contain references to politicians, parties, ‘getting out the vote,’ and/or election suppression. They also include political slogans and party logos.

We will be using a mix of automated and human review to help us identify ads that should no longer be running. We are also rolling out a set of global political advertising tools by the end of June. With each election, we’re learning which tools are most useful, so that we can bring them to more countries, faster.

These efforts help hold advertisers and us more accountable.

More Resources for Rapid Response

Our security team is working around the clock to help us stay a step ahead and uncover platform abuse. Globally, we have removed thousands of Pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior across our platforms. We are committed to making improvements and building stronger partnerships around the world to more effectively detect and stop this activity.

Building on the work of the last few months and to better coordinate the work in the final weeks before elections in Asia-Pacific, including Thailand, we are planning to set up new regional operations centers, focused on election integrity, including one in Singapore. This will further strengthen our coordination and rapid response capabilities, and allow our global teams to better work across regions. Working together with our teams in our Menlo Park headquarters and across the region, the new initiative will serve as an added layer of defense against false news and misinformation, hate speech, voter suppression and election interference.

This effort will house experts from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, and will work cross-functionally with our threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations, legal and other teams.

It will also work closely with lawmakers, election commissions, fact-checkers, researchers, academics and civil society groups to continue the fight against fake news and misinformation; help prevent the spread of voter suppression efforts; and further integrate the large number of teams working on these important issues.

Growing Our Capacity to Address Misinformation and False News

Our work to fight fake news continues to improve. Across News Feed, we follow a three-part framework to improve the quality and authenticity of stories. First, we remove content that violates our Community Standards, which help enforce the safety and security of the platform. Then, for content that does not directly violate our Community Standards, but still undermines the authenticity of the platform — like clickbait or sensational material — we reduce its distribution in News Feed, so less people see it. Finally, we inform people by giving them more context on the information they see in News Feed. For example, when someone comes across a story, they can tap on ‘About this article’  to see more details on the article and the publisher.

We also want to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share, and we do this by promoting news literacy and providing people with more context. In Thailand, we are rolling out a Tips to Spot False News advertorial in partnership with local organizations such as Sure And Share Center of the Thai News Agency and Chulalongkorn University.

We are also committed to supporting Thailand’s news industry, especially during the elections period. We recently held training sessions for news publishers in Thailand to share best practices for newsrooms, including elections coverage, and training on tools such as CrowdTangle to help with their elections reporting.

Increasing our Safety and Security Efforts

We now have more than 30,000 people working on safety and security across the company, three times as many as we had in 2017. We have also improved our machine learning capabilities, which allows us to be more efficient and effective in finding and removing violating behavior. These improvements have helped in many ways, including our work to fight coordinated inauthentic behavior, where we’ve used a mix of technology and our expert investigators to search for and take down more sophisticated networks. While these efforts are global, we also customize our work to individual countries based on research and threat assessments that begin many months before ballots are cast. This means we have safety and security teams working to identify and disrupt any Information Operations we find, including in Thailand. We’re also providing safety and security guidance to help protect candidates and party Pages from hacking and impersonation. Like we do for all elections, we will be proactively monitoring for any impersonation or hacked accounts.

Through these actions, we want to make it harder to interfere with elections on the platform, and easier for people to make their voices legitimately heard in the political process. We have dedicated teams working on every upcoming election around the world, including Thailand. We are committed to tackling all kinds of inauthentic behavior and abuse on our platform – which we know often intensify during elections – from misinformation, misrepresentation and foreign interference, to phishing, harassment and violent threats. For more on our work to protect elections around the world in 2019, see here.

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