How Meta is Preparing for Italy’s 2022 Elections

Today, we are sharing our work to protect the integrity of the general elections taking place in Italy on 25 September 2022. 

In recent years, we’ve increased our efforts to combat misinformation by investing in teams, technology and partnerships to ensure the safety of people using Meta’s platforms. Since 2016, we’ve quadrupled our security and integrity workforce to more than 40,000 people globally. Last year alone, we invested nearly $5 billion in both of these areas.

We know that local knowledge is essential for this work to be effective, so we also have a team of specialists in Italy who have a deep understanding of the situation. These efforts are intensified as the election approaches, and our work to protect the integrity of our platforms will continue after the vote.

Preventing and Stopping Election Interference

Removing content that violates our policies on voter suppression, such as posts that discourage people from voting, is one of our many responses to potential interference in the electoral process. 

Currently, 99.7% of the fake accounts we remove from Facebook are deleted by artificial intelligence, before they are reported by users. We also investigate and disrupt networks that use fake accounts in a coordinated way to influence public debate.

We have activated a virtual Elections Operations Center focused on Italy, an initiative we’ve implemented since 2018, to bring together experts from across the company – including intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, public policy and legal teams. They work together to identify potential threats on our platforms in real time, accelerating our response time.

Collaborating With Authorities

Our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, and we believe our platforms can play a positive role in elections by helping people use their voice where it matters most – by voting. That’s why we’re collaborating with the Ministry of Interior ahead of the elections to inform users on the upcoming elections. Starting tomorrow we’ll post election reminders on Facebook for users of 18 years old and above. These reminders will redirect users directly to the Ministry of Interior website where they will be able to find reliable information about elections. On Instagram, also starting tomorrow, users will have access to 3 new election stickers created by the talented illustrator and multidisciplinary artist, Olimpia Zagnoli, to remind users the importance of voting. By adding the stickers to stories, the users’ followers can tap to find the Ministry of Interior website to get election information, too.

Fighting Misinformation

We remove content on Facebook and Instagram that discourages voting or interferes with voting, such as incorrect information about the election date or candidates’ numbers.

We also work with independent fact-checking organizations to verify the veracity of reported posts that don’t violate our Community Standards – in Italy we work with Pagella Politica, Facta and Open. When fact-checkers mark a post as false, we reduce its reach on Facebook and Instagram.

People who still see this content in their feeds will see it covered with a label and a link directing them to more information from the fact-checker.

Since messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, we fight misinformation on WhatsApp through measures to reduce message virality.

Messages forwarded on WhatsApp are identified with a tag. Since 2020, messages with five or more forwards can be resent to just one conversation, which has led to a 70% global reduction in the number of frequently forwarded messages. This year, we implemented a new forwarding limit on WhatsApp: now, any forwarded message can only be forwarded again to one WhatsApp group at a time.

Advertising Transparency

In 2018, we launched our transparency tools for ads about politics and elections on Facebook and Instagram. In 2019, we began requiring advertisers who wish to run ads about social issues, elections or politics in Italy to complete an authorization process and include “Paid for by” disclaimers on these ads. 

All posts with the “Paid for by” disclaimer go to the Ad Library, where they are stored for seven years. The tool is open and provides anyone with detailed information about political ads including  the ad source account, audience demographics and estimated spending range, among other data.

We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping people participate in elections and ensuring safe, secure, and free elections. We will continue to share updates on how we move forward with this work.

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