Feb 16, 2020 - Technology

Zuckerberg: Election meddlers are getting better at hiding their tracks

Mark Zuckerberg
Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a fireside chat at the Munich Security Conference, said that since 2016, Facebook has "played a role in helping to defend the integrity of" more than 200 elections around the world.

Why it matters: On top of growing revenue and the number of users on Facebook, Zuckerberg also has to ensure that the platform is not blamed for negatively influencing elections and does not buckle on freedom of speech.

What he's saying: Zuckerberg said the successful techniques have included "developing AI systems that can identify fake accounts and networks of accounts."

  • "In the last couple of weeks, we took down one that was coming out of Russia [targeting] Ukraine, and one coming out of Iran that was targeting the U.S."
  • Zuckerberg said the majority of the more than 1 million fake accounts Facebook takes down each day aren't connected to state actors interfering with elections. They're spammers.
  • "One of the things that we are tracking that we have been quite worried about is that increasingly, election interference ... is ... also domestic. You have ... local actors also trying to employ some of the same tactics. ... We have also seen these actors get more sophisticated at trying to hide their tracks."

Zuckerberg said a big Facebook transformation in the last few years has been "from being more reactive about addressing content-type issues to being more proactive":

  • "I started the company in my dorm room. Back then, we could not have 35,000 people doing content and security review. The AI. 16 years ago, did not exist ... to identify this type of harmful stuff."

"Hate speech is a particularly challenging one," he continued. "We have to be able to train AI systems to detect ... nuances. Is someone posting a video of a racist attack because they are condemning it ... or are they encouraging other people."

  • "Multiply ... that subtlety, linguistically, by 150 languages around the world where we operate."

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