Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook removed 265,000 pieces of content on voter interference

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Facebook says it removed more than 265,000 pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. for violating its content policies on voter interference leading up to the election.

Why it matters: The company was much more proactive this election cycle than last in taking down and labeling content attempting to disrupt the election.

Details: Facebook said it also displayed warning labels on more than 180 million in pieces of content in the U.S. related to voter interference.

  • The company says that 95% of people didn't click through articles in which warning labels appeared. It's unclear, however, whether that metric really shows that the labels were effective, because the company didn't reveal what the click-through rate is on average for all content on its platform.
  • Facebook's VP of Integrity Guy Rosen said it rejected 3.3. million ad submissions for political and issue ads targeting users in the U.S. for not completing the required political ad authorization process.
  • The company also said that it estimates it helped over 4.5 million people to register to vote through Facebook, Messenger and Instagram and that it helped over 100,000 people register as poll workers.

Between the lines: Facebook tried to proactively police misinformation more this cycle than last by pushing users to a voter information center with verified election information from experts every time they opened its app.

  • In total, Facebook said it say 150 million visits to its Voter Information Center since it launched the portal in the summer.
  • Over 33 million people visited it on Election Day.

The big picture: Tech companies, including Facebook, took unprecedented steps this year to curb the spread of election misinformation.

  • Most are breathing a sigh of relief that they averted their biggest nightmare — a repeat of 2016's foreign-disinformation debacle.
  • But critics still argue Facebook and others could've gone farther, by removing more posts that were instead just labeled.
  • The company left up labeled multiple posts from President Trump prematurely alleging that he won the election.

What's next: Rosen says the company is working to select an auditing firm to help the company verify its metrics around policing content during the U.S. election. He expects the audit to occur over the course of 2021.

Go deeper: Tech's election post mortem: Better than 2016, but lots of new woes

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