Working to Safeguard Elections in Indonesia

By Katie Harbath, Public Policy Director, Global Elections and Ruben Hattari, Head of Public Policy, Indonesia

At Facebook, we’re focused on protecting elections while also making sure people have a voice in the political process. Over the last two years, we’ve learned from elections around the world to create a robust approach to safeguard our platform. This includes removing fake accounts, reducing false news, disrupting bad actors and increasing ads transparency. And we’re doing this while also supporting an informed and engaged electorate.

Today, we’re sharing more details on how we will protect the Indonesian elections in April.

Restricting Foreign Electoral Ads

Combating foreign interference is a key pillar of our approach to safeguarding election integrity on our platform. As part of this commitment, we’re temporarily disallowing electoral ads purchased from outside Indonesia ahead of the election. The restriction took effect this morning and will apply to any ad coming from an advertiser based outside of the country, if it references politicians or political parties or attempts to encourage or suppress voting.

We are using a mix of automated and human review to help us identify foreign electoral ads that should no longer be running on our platform.

Greater Transparency for All Ads

As part of our commitment to support an informed electorate, we’ve taken steps to provide more information about any ad a Page is running in the Page’s “Info and Ads” section. This includes electoral ads. People can also report an ad by tapping the 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 gives people a better understanding of the Page’s original purpose.

We’re 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 we can bring them to more countries, faster.

More Resources for Rapid Response

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. Our security team is working around the clock to help us stay a step ahead and uncover abuse. Globally, we’ve 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.

We’re also setting up an operations center in Singapore focused on election integrity ahead of key elections across Asia-Pacific. The center will be staffed by experts from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, who will work cross-functionally with our threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations, legal and other teams. This center will work with our Menlo Park headquarters and in-country experts to serve as another line of defense against false news and misinformation, hate speech, voter suppression and election interference.

Our teams also work closely with lawmakers, election commissions, fact-checkers, researchers, academics and civil society groups to better integrate efforts on important issues related to election integrity.

Growing Our Capacity to Address Misinformation and False News

We also want to make sure people see accurate information about the upcoming election and the choices they’ll be making at the ballot box. That’s why we’ve taken steps — in Indonesia and around the world — to improve the quality and authenticity of information on our platform and fight false news. We do this in three main ways:

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 break our rules, 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. For instance, 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. In Indonesia, we’re conducting the Think Before You Share school program in partnership with YCAB Foundation and Do Something Indonesia. Our goal is to educate more than 30,000 students, teachers and parents in seven provinces about critical thinking skills in the online world.

And through our Laju Digital program in East Indonesia, we’re training local government officials and community members in key digital skills.

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, especially in 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 Indonesia. 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 impersonation or hacked accounts.

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 Indonesia. For more on our work to protect elections around the world in 2019, see here.

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