Facebook’s public policy director Neil Potts, left, and global director and head of public policy Canada, Kevin Chan, speak with the clerk as he places name plates for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as they wait to appear before The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Facebook’s public policy director Neil Potts, left, and global director and head of public policy Canada, Kevin Chan, speak with the clerk as he places name plates for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as they wait to appear before The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Facebook says its election integrity strategy is in effect in B.C.

Content promoting voter suppression will be removed under the company’s community standards

Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia, but would not share how many posts containing misinformation, if any, have been removed or fact-checked.

Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, said the social media company has two methods for dealing with misinformation on its platforms.

Content promoting voter suppression will be removed under the company’s community standards and advertising policies, and it also works with independent fact-checkers to review “fake news” posts, he said.

Agence France-Presse and Radio-Canada are in charge of fact-checking for the B.C. election, but Facebook does not monitor their work or know if any posts have been flagged relating to the campaign. He did not say if any voter-suppression posts had been removed.

Marisha Goldhamer, senior editor for AFP fact-checking in Canada, said most claims it has fact checked from B.C. relate to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and COVID-19.

“We have not yet rated a misinformation claim directly related to the B.C. election on Facebook, but we are watching closely,” she said.

As part of the program, Canadians on Facebook will be informed if a story they shared has been rated as false, and pages that repeatedly share false news will be seen less across users’ news feeds.

“We are a platform and we do very much want to remain neutral. What we do do is we have the partnership with the fact-checkers, but they are completely independent in terms of what they fact-check, how much they fact-check and obviously what their conclusions are,” Chan said in a teleconference call with journalists.

The company does not moderate content in private messages, which are encrypted. However, it has limited the number of recipients that can receive a forwarded message to five, Chan said.

Facebook Canada has also offered political parties and candidates access to an emergency hotline to report concerns like suspected hacks, training in social media security and other kinds of support, Chan said.

Its advertising transparency policy means it now requires a “rigorous” identification authentication process and labelling system for topics related to policy or possible campaign issues, he said.

Advertisements that don’t meet those standards are blocked, Chan added. He did not say if any ads related to the B.C. election had been blocked.

The company has not identified any attempts at foreign interference in the B.C. election, Chan said.

Philip Mai, co-director of Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab, described the fact-checking strategy as a “minuscule” step in the right direction.

However, he said it can be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily mean the original post is removed from Facebook, only that it will now have a label indicating it has been fact-checked with a link to the fact-checking article. If a user doesn’t read closely, the label can make the post appear more official, he said.

Misinformation related to elections becomes a concern when it is amplified or planted for nefarious reasons, he said, adding two people can have a relatively harmless public conversation on social media that includes some errors.

A local or provincial election would only likely see interference if it had national or international implications, he said.

“Then you will see actors from outside the province who will try to tip the scale by putting their finger on it,” Mai said.

Mai also said there is a good reason for Facebook not to disclose the volume and types of posts it has taken down or moderated. That can give bad actors more information about what they can and cannot get away with, he said.

As a platform that wants to encourage expression, Chan said differentiating posts that are opinions versus intentional misstatements can be difficult.

For that reason, the company tends to focus on reviewing suspicious user behaviour, which can help it identify fake accounts for example, and leave the content reviews to third parties, he said.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC Votes 2020facebook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

Most Read