Ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections, Facebook is expected to announce a commission around this autumn, which will look into matters related to elections globally. An advisory body will be formed to monitor major political decision-making, said a team of five people with knowledge on the matter.
The social media company has reached policy experts and academics to understand the viability of the ads published with political motives and methods to control misinformation. The anonymous people with information about the discussions believe that the step is in the preliminary phase.
Facebook plans to create this adversary panel to diminish conservatives perception of them as a politically biased company. Conservatives and civil rights groups accuse the social media giant of suppressing their voice and having no control over the misinformation being spread.
However, Facebook has refrained from commenting on this. CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg intends not to be held in charge of the decisions on political content and get rid of the accusations concerning companies political bias.
Facebook formed an independent Oversight board in 2018. The team comprises experts in legal and policy, and journalists to scrutinize the removal of content decisions made in the past. The people appointed in the panel are independent and get paid by a trust.
The Oversight Board also faced criticism from the conservatives on banning former President Donald Trump’s account. Not much is clear of the commission regarding the independence level that the Oversight board possesses.
There are dozens of more cases of decisions “highly emblematic” that have been reviewed by the board. Removal of Myanmar’s hate speech issue and posts related to Covid also fall under review.
Facebook went through heavy criticism back in 2016’s presidential election, when Russia manipulated the advertisements and posts on the platform.
In 2020, the political ad buyers and lawmakers criticized companies’ changes in rules prior to the presidential election. On which the company said that they will only bar the political ads buying about a week prior to the elections. But later on, they lifted this decision and put a temporary ban on political advertising in the US. The candidates and ad-buying firms were not happy with the decision.
Facebook had to face more issues during 2018’s Brazilian presidential election regarding amplification of targeted disinformation across the WhatsApp groups there.
Also, Before India’s national elections, Facebook removed many accounts and misinformation related to political parties.
Elections are close in countries like Brazil, Germany, Hungary, and the Philippines where Facebook’s decision-making will be on the test. Germany is already facing Voting Fraud related misleading information.
Stanford University’s law professor Nathaniel Persily stated, “There is already this perception that Facebook, an American social media company, is going in and tilting elections of other countries through its platform.” He added,“Whatever decisions Facebook makes have global implications.”
The election commission will help Facebook to keep a check on election-related content not in a political way, but with policies. Unlike the Oversight board, a Commission would guide the company to avoid repercussions of hasty decisions.
A former employee at Facebook, Tatenda Musapatike stated, “They’re doing something, and they’re not saying we alone can handle it.” The lady who currently runs a Nonprofit Voter registration organization said that the people have lost faith in Facebook’s ability to handle a political campaign and the election commission’s proposal is a good step.
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