Facebook doubles down on efforts to protect India assembly polls

Based on lessons learned from past elections in India and globally, Facebook has doubled down on its efforts to support and protect assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry.

The company said on Wednesday that it is taking steps to enhance civic engagement, combat hate speech, limit misinformation and remove voter suppression.

“To decrease the risk of problematic content going viral in these states and potentially inciting violence ahead of or during the election, we will significantly reduce the distribution of content that our proactive detection technology identifies as likely hate speech or violence and incitement,” the company said in a statement.

The company said that it continues to closely partner with election authorities, including to set up a high priority channel to remove content that breaks our rules or is against local law after receiving valid legal orders.

Facebook said that it may deploy technology to identify new words and phrases associated with hate speech, and either remove posts with that language or reduce their distribution.

“In addition to our standard practice of removing accounts that repeatedly violate our Community Standards, we will also temporarily reduce the distribution of content from accounts that have recently and repeatedly violated our policies,” it added.

The company is currently working with eight partners in India who are certified by the International Fact-Checking Network, to provide people with additional context about the content they’re seeing on Facebook.

In addition to English, these eight partners fact-check in 11 Indian languages including Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam and Assamese.

In 2019, led by the industry body IAMAI, Facebook had set up a high priority channel with the Election Commission of India (ECI) for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, to receive content-related escalations.

“The Voluntary Code is applicable for this election as well,” it said.