Facebook sets up Singapore operations centre on 'election integrity' ahead of polls across Asia

Facebook sets up Singapore operations centre on 'election integrity' ahead of polls across Asia

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in th
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken Mar 28, 2018. (File photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

SINGAPORE: Facebook on Tuesday (Mar 5) said it is setting up an operations centre in Singapore focusing on election integrity ahead of key elections across Asia Pacific.

The centre will boost its efforts to tackle "inauthentic behaviour and abuse" on the platform that "often intensify during elections", it said in a news release attributed to Katie Harbath, public policy director for global elections and Ruben Hattari, head of public policy for Indonesia.

READ: Singapore first port of call in Asia Pacific for Facebook’s new digital literacy initiative

The world's largest social network cited misinformation, misrepresentation, foreign interference, phishing, harassment and violent threats as examples of behaviour it wants to eliminate across all its platforms - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - adding that it has removed thousands of pages, groups and accounts globally.

"Our teams also work closely with lawmakers, election commissions, fact-checkers, researchers, academics and civil society groups to better integrate efforts on important issues related to election integrity."

The social media giant added: "The center will be staffed by experts from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, who will work cross-functionally with our threat intelligence, data science, engineering, research, community operations, legal and other teams. 

"This center will work with our Menlo Park headquarters and in-country experts to serve as another line of defense against false news and misinformation, hate speech, voter suppression and election interference."

INDONESIA ELECTIONS

Ahead of elections in Indonesia next month, Facebook said that it has temporarily banned electoral ads purchased outside the country.

The electoral ads ban in Indonesia which started on Tuesday prohibit any paid material relating to politicians, parties or attempts to encourage voter suppression from advertisers based outside the Southeast Asian nation.

"We want to make it harder to interfere with elections on the platform, and easier for people to make their voices legitimately heard in the political process."

The announcement comes just weeks after European Union officials blasted the company for not doing enough to scrutinise advertising on its site in the run-up to EU elections in May.

In response, the company unveiled new tools and rules that would require a wide range of political ads linked to the elections to be specifically authorised and tagged with a clear "paid for by" disclaimer.

READ: Facebook, Google tools reveal new political ad tactics

READ: EU urges internet firms to intensify fake news fight

The US firm first began looking into its influence on elections after revelations of Russian influence campaigns during the 2016 US election.

But the social media giant has been accused of being too slow to act by some leaders.

Facebook said it would use a combination of automated and human intervention to remove offending ads relating to Indonesia.

Source: CNA/AFP/jt(mn)

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