Facebook spent years preparing to ward off any tampering on its site ahead of November’s presidential election. Now the social network is getting ready in case President Trump interferes once the vote is over.
Employees at the Silicon Valley company are laying out contingency plans and walking through postelection scenarios that include attempts by Mr. Trump or his campaign to use the platform to delegitimize the results, people with knowledge of Facebook’s plans said.
Facebook is preparing steps to take should Mr. Trump wrongly claim on the site that he won another four-year term, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Facebook is also working through how it might act if Mr. Trump tries to invalidate the results by declaring that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots or that other groups meddled with the vote, the people said.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and some of his lieutenants have started holding daily meetings about minimizing how the platform can be used to dispute the election, the people said. They have discussed a “kill switch” to shut off political advertising after Election Day since the ads, which Facebook does not police for truthfulness, could be used to spread misinformation, the people said….
Alex Stamos, director of Stanford University’s Internet Observatory and a former Facebook executive, said Facebook, Twitter and YouTube faced a singular situation where they “have to potentially treat the president as a bad actor” who could undermine the democratic process.
We don’t have experience with that in the United States,” Mr. Stamos added.
Facebook may be in an especially difficult position because Mr. Zuckerberg has said the social network stands for free speech. Unlike Twitter, which has flagged Mr. Trump’s tweets for being factually inaccurate and glorifying violence, Facebook has said that politicians’ posts are newsworthy and that the public has the right to see them. Taking any action on posts from Mr. Trump or his campaign after the vote could open Facebook up to accusations of censorship and anticonservative bias.