Feb 16, 2020 - Technology

Zuckerberg: Election meddlers are getting better at hiding their tracks

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."

Go deeper: Facebook executive argues digital ads got Trump elected

Go deeper

Ken Chenault to depart Facebook board of directors

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault will not run for re-election on Facebook's board of directors following disagreements with CEO Mark Zuckerberg over governance and political policies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Facebook's board of directors has seen significantly changes in a short period of time, with some departing who are not fully in agreement with Zuckerberg. Last month the board added Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, and a friend of Zuckerberg's.

Europe nixes Facebook's plea for friendly rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook is doubling down on its big pitch to lawmakers across the globe: regulate us.

Yes, but: Key regulators aren't buying it. Hours after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with lawmakers in Europe to discuss the company's new proposals for regulation, a French commissioner overseeing the EU's data strategy rejected the plan, saying "It’s not enough. It’s too slow, it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation."

Facebook offers up to $5 for voice recordings to train speech recognition

Facebook logo. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook is offering users up to $5 via PayPal to record themselves saying "Hey Portal" and then list the first names of no more than 10 Facebook friends, The Verge reports and Axios has confirmed.

The big picture: Facebook is pitching users a small amount of money in exchange for personal data to train its speech recognition tech after reports that it and other Big Tech companiesGoogle, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon — have listened to their users for that reason without consent.