Citing experiences from the earlier elections, Facebook on Wednesday announced its plans to remove any content found to be in violation of the policy it has formulated. The decision was taken in order to regulate hate speech in view of elections in four states and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Facebook is now taking steps to enhance civic engagement, combat hate speech, limit misinformation, and remove voter suppression.
According to its policy, any content offering to buy or sell votes in exchange for cash or kind will be removed. Additionally, it will also remove explicit claims such as “you will contract Covid-19” if you vote or “do not go to vote as everyone will get the disease”.
“Facebook recognizes its role in creating an informed society. Thus, it will also be reminding people to exercise their right to vote. Facebook has come up with Election Day reminders in order to give voters accurate information and encourage voters,” the company said in a blogpost.
India’s largest market, Facebook informed that it has invested in a proactive technology to detect and reduce the distribution of content in violation of the policy. It added the social media firm is likewise deploying technology to recognize new words related to hate speech.
The company has also pledged to reduce the distribution of content from the accounts found to have repeatedly violated its policies. It added it has partnered with eight third-party fact-checking organizations to tackle misinformation during elections.
The firm also plans public education campaigns and digital literacy training to stop the spread of misinformation.
Facebook has been under fire for allowing hate speech. The opposition Congress in August last year sought a parliamentary panel probe into Facebook’s alleged favorable treatment to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This came following a report in the Wall Street Journal that said Facebook and WhatsApp had refused to bar a BJP lawmaker even as he wrote hateful posts. This was allegedly done to protect the social media company’s commercial interests.
Twitter too acquainted new rules a week ago to contain the spread of false news. It shared tips for users to guarantee that they are getting precise data and information.
To ensure free and fair polls, Both social media intermediaries have also signed a voluntary code of ethics with the Election Commission of India. The government in February introduced new rules to regulate social media content and making companies like Facebook more accountable to requests for quick removal of posts and details on their sources.