Facebook failed to warn Georgian voters of misinformation, activists say
uses labels to warn users of posts containing disinformation, but a global activist group says false statements still slip through the cracks before the second round of elections in Georgia that will decide which party controls the US Senate.
Avaaz, a global activist group, said Friday it examined 204 Facebook posts in English and Spanish containing 12 false statements related to the Georgia election, debunked by fact-checkers. As of November 20, around 60% of those posts did not have a label warning users that the post contained false information. Some of the posts were not tagged at all and others had a different tag that directed Facebook users to an online hub with election information.
The analysis raises the question of whetherare effective. The company relies on a mix of human reviewers and technology to moderate online content. Messages from politicians are generally exempt from fact checking.
In the analysis, Avaaz shows identical Facebook posts with election misinformation that were handled differently by the social network. A post falsely stated that 132,000 ballots in Fulton County, Ga. Were identified as “possibly ineligible,” a claim that has been debunked by fact checkers. The group said the examples show there are inconsistencies in how Facebook qualifies election misinformation.
Even posts that had a fact-checking tag still spread to hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, Avaaz found. The group said 82 posts that had a fact-check tag had 361,262 interactions. Avaaz urges the company to properly label misinformation and display posts from pages and groups that repeatedly share the misinformation further down in people’s news feeds.
The increased pressure comes ahead of the second round of the January 5 elections for the two seats in the Georgian Senate. A second round takes place when a candidate has not won the majority of votes. Early voting is scheduled to begin on December 14.
Georgian voters are only weeks away from deciding the direction of the US Senate – and the leadership of the country – and their newsfeeds are flooded with misinformation that could further erode confidence in the electoral process and remove the turnout, ”said Avaaz’s campaign manager. Fadi Quran in a statement.
Facebook said the company was reviewing the report’s findings and had applied a fact-checking tag to some of the posts identified by Avaaz. The company said it was using artificial intelligence to help identify duplicate posts containing disinformation.
“We share Avaaz’s goal of limiting disinformation. We remain the only company to partner with more than 80 fact-checking organizations, using AI to extend their fact-checks to millions of duplicate messages, and we are working to improve our ability to act on it. “There is no manual for a program like ours and we are constantly working to improve it,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.