“I Worked at Facebook. It’s Not Ready for This Year’s Election Wave.”

Katie Harbath NYT oped:

The world is not ready for the coming electoral tsunami. Neither is Facebook. With so many elections on the horizon — France, Kenya, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and the United States will hold elections this year — the conversation now should focus on how Facebook is preparing.

I know what it’s like to prepare for an election at Facebook. I worked there for 10 years, and from 2014 through the end of 2019, I led the company’s work across elections globally. It has poured more than $13 billion into building up its safety and security efforts in the United States since the 2016 elections, when the platform was too slow to recognize how its products could be weaponized to spread misinformation.

Responsible election plans cannot be spun up in days or weeks. It takes time not only to organize internally but also to make meaningful and necessary connections with the communities around the world working to secure elections. Facebook must begin serious, concerted, well-funded efforts today.

For some of the elections happening in the first half of this year, Facebook is cutting it close. But there’s still time for Facebook to commit to a publicly available road map that outlines how it plans to build up its resources to fight misinformation and hate speech around the world. Algorithms that find hate speech and election-related content; labels that give people more context, like those in the United States applied to content that questioned the election results; and efforts to get people accurate information about where, when and how to vote should all be a part of the baseline protections Facebook deploys across the globe. On top of these technical protections, it needs people with country-specific language and culture expertise to make tough decisions about speech or behavior that might violate the platform’s rules.

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