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Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Misinformation is proliferating on Facebook about January's Senate election in Georgia despite the company's stated plans to keep conspiracy theories and falsehoods around the runoffs at bay, a new report from nonprofit human-rights group Avaaz finds.

Why it matters: The Georgia runoffs are a huge test for the fact-checking and labeling abilities of Facebook and other social media companies, as President Trump and his allies continue to spread false theories about voter fraud.

Catch up quick: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers during a Senate hearing last month that Facebook planned to "have a similar approach in the upcoming Georgia special elections that we took during the general election" and that the company planned to make misinformation checks "more robust" in future elections.

Yes, but: Misinformation around the Georgia runoffs is nevertheless running rampant on Facebook, Avaaz found.

By the numbers: Facebook didn't issue fact-checking labels on 60% of a selection of Georgia-related election misinformation, Avaaz said.

  • In 204 posts Avaaz analyzed, garnering 643,00 interactions, there were 12 different false claims, including about voter fraud, violence targeting Black voters and a claim that Senate candidate Raphael Warnock supports Fidel Castro.

The big picture: It remains unclear just how much impact Facebook's policies are having on the spread of misinformation and inflammatory material.

What they're saying: “Georgia voters are just weeks away from deciding the direction of the US Senate — and the direction of the country — and their News Feeds are being overrun with misinformation that could further erode trust in the election process and suppress turnout," said Fadi Quran, campaign director for Avaaz.

  • Avaaz recommends issuing fact checks to misleading posts, labeling all variations of misinformation across the platform and downranking pages and groups that have violated Facebook's misinformation policies.

The other side: "We share Avaaz’s goal of limiting misinformation," said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone, who noted the company has now fact-checked some of the content references in the report. "We remain the only company to partner with more than 80 fact-checking organizations, using AI to scale their fact-checks to millions of duplicate posts, and we are working to improve our ability to action on similar posts."

  • "There is no playbook for a program like ours and we’re constantly working to improve it."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 6: Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.