After finding itself caught up in allegations of misuse of data during the US Presidential Election and the Brexit vote in the UK, Facebook is aware of its responsibilities, said Zuckerberg:
Over the next 18 months, there are important elections beyond the US. in Brazil, India, and the EU, and these will all be real tests for Facebook. But I'm confident that we will get this right given our results during last year's French and German elections, the Alabama special election, as well as this month's presidential election in Mexico, where our systems found and removed thousands of fake account pages and groups that violated our policies.
Of course, security is not a problem that you ever fully solve. We face sophisticated well-funded adversaries who are constantly evolving. But, during each election, we learn and improve too. We're also making progress in the fight against misinformation. We're getting rid of the financial incentives for spammers to create fake news, much of which is economically motivated. We stopped pages that repeatedly spread false information from buying ads. And we also use AI to prevent fake accounts that generate a lot of the problematic content from ever being created in the first place.
He goes on:
We've built the playbook out that has included building AI tools to identify thousands of fake accounts and groups and pages that violate the policies. It's included growing the security and content review teams to 20,000 people to be able to handle the volume of work that we need to do. And it includes a lot of the transparency work around advertising in general, but also the political and issue ads archive and verifying all advertisers who are trying to run political and issue ads.
There are a number of other things that we're doing too, including creating an external program for independent academics to study how the impact of social media and how foreign governments try to interfere in elections. And that will have a longer-term impact as well.
Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg adds that changes have been made around political advertising policies:
Advertisers placing ads with political content are now required to verify their identity and location. These ads will be labeled with a disclosure about who paid for them and saved in a searchable archive. The vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organizations from small businesses looking for new customers to advocacy groups raising money for their causes. But we've seen that bad actors can misuse our products too, so we're erring on the side of transparency. We're being intentionally broad in our interpretation of political and issue ads. This includes ads for books about politicians and brand campaigns that touch on national issues.
All of this leads Zuckerberg to claim:
We've been very focused on this. 2018 is a big year. And because of the successful results that we've seen in a number of elections recently, we feel like our road map and our level of preparation is much higher now than it has been.
So no more scandals then? Zuckerberg concludes:
We feel relatively confident going into these elections.
Hmmm - is “relatively confident” good enough?