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Facebook looks to stop election interference using its 'war room'

By midian182 · 20 replies
Sep 20, 2018
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  1. As reported by the New York Times, Facebook has over 300 people across the US working to stop the spread of disinformation aimed at influencing voters before the start of elections in various countries, but only 20 people work in the war room.

    Located at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, the 25-foot-by-35-foot conference room, which is still under construction, will be filled with engineers, data scientists and executives. Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s elections and civic engagement team lead, called it a “last line of defense” against online influence campaigns.

    “We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones,” said Chakrabarti.

    Custom software created by Facebook will help track information on the platform in real time. These dashboards “resemble a set of line and bar graphs, with statistics that provide a view into how activity on the platform is changing.”

    "War Room" meeting at Facebook’s headquarters. Image credit: The New York Times

    The dashboards will allow employees to zero in on a particular fake news story with a wide circulation, or an uptick in automated accounts being created in a certain geographic area.

    The war room will also be used to “actively remove posts” that spread disinformation. While Facebook already has features in place to stop fake news, the team is there to catch anything that falls through the net.

    “The best outcome for us is that nothing happens in the War Room,” Chakrabarti said. “Everything else we are doing is defenses we are putting down to stop this in the first place.”

    Facebook has already tested the system during the special United States Senate election in Alabama in December. The newest version will be introduced before Brazil’s presidential election this month.

    In August, Facebook deleted hundreds of accounts linked to Iranian and Russian disinformation campaigns.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2018
  2. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,056   +1,319

    But, what determines what is "fake" news? My guess, considering the political SLANT of twitter, Fakebook, the news media and the like, they will suppress negative stories on certain political candidates, and PROMOTE negative political stories on other candidates.
  3. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,604   +1,818

    People should be terrified that a media company is creating a war room to moderate an election of a democracy, all in the name of fighting "interference" that has not been proven to exist. .

    Facebook should have NOTHING to do with our elections. Preventing "interference" is the federal governments job.
    Reehahs, Zoner1501 and Wendig0 like this.
  4. Socialists gonna socialist.
    Zoner1501, Wendig0 and kombu like this.
  5. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,972   +581

    Facebook news feed ... lol
    kombu likes this.
  6. Netfox

    Netfox TS Member Posts: 88   +8

    What the hell? Facebook war room? Are they serious?
    They'd better work on their privacy and numerous bugs - that's the only thing people need from them.
    thews86 likes this.
  7. ShObiT

    ShObiT TS Maniac Posts: 183   +173

    I don't know if Calling politicians on their bullshit is "interfering", seems like they just want to have the freedom to fool everybody with big fat lies and censor everyone that calls it like it is...
    Godel, Zoner1501 and Wendig0 like this.
  8. "Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!"

    edit: famous line from Dr. Strangelove, a 1964 political satire black comedy film that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. Almost a documentary LOL
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 21, 2018

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,766   +836

    Facebook is the LAST place I would trust to stop election interference. In fact, it is likely the opposite.
    Darth Shiv likes this.
  10. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,164   +3,764

    Unfortunately the Federal government has done zip, nada, nothing to stop election interference. In fact this administration has encouraged it.

    Whatever Facebook is doing is because of the failure of the government to protect a basic right.
  11. Xclusiveitalian

    Xclusiveitalian TS Evangelist Posts: 789   +175

    "stop election interference" by banning anything that would help Republicans. Their agenda is quite clear, and quite illegal.
    thews86 likes this.
  12. thews86

    thews86 TS Booster Posts: 47   +44

    How is this administration encouraging it? This ''Russian meddling'' that we all hear about (but don't know what they did) happened while Obama was in office. What elections have we had since that had interference? We haven't had any. You are such a hater, its unreal what they feed people like you. I bet you don't know about Trump's executive order that allows the intelligence agencies and State Department to place sanctions on any country found to be guilty of interfering in our elections. Clearly Trump Derangement Syndrome. Big tech and Silicon Valley are waging war against the American people.
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,164   +3,764

    "“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, referring to emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”"

    That aside, never before in US history have we done NOTHING when attacked. Spineless.

    "You are such a hater, its unreal what they feed people like you. I bet you don't know about Trump's executive order that allows the intelligence agencies and State Department to place sanctions on any country found to be guilty of interfering in our elections."

    The fact that you are that quick to assume you know someone says more about you then anything. How about you not substitute personal attacks for an actual argument. Who's feeding me? Trump. Those are his words after all. I could go on about him siding with Russia over all of our intelligence agencies. Oh, excuse me if I took the presidents words at face value calling for a foreign adversary to tamper in an election and putting down the FBI, NSA, and CIA and holding up Russia. /facepalm

    "Big tech and Silicon Valley are waging war against the American people"

    That's what we call a conspiracy theory.

    "I bet you don't know about Trump's executive order that allows the intelligence agencies and State Department to place sanctions on any country found to be guilty of interfering in our elections"

    Wow, so the administration did what congress legally mandated them to do? Wow, they deserve a cookie for doing that. I guess they deserve a cookie for holding up Russian sanctions for months as well /s.

    But yes, sanctions do not address the main problem in that they do squat for protecting elections. What is the administration doing to ensure voting machines are secure? What security procedures are they putting in place and what training are the employees who work the machines receiving? What steps are being taken against online influence campaigns like the millions of dollars in ads purchased on Facebook from Russian sources? The answer to everything is nothing. Sanctions are punishment after, they don't prevent squat.
  14. LenovoX

    LenovoX TS Booster Posts: 73   +32

    In my country there are tens of thousands of accounts named "sack my duck" and infinite variations on that, used by trolls to curse you if you wanna debate something... I have reported dozens of them... those accounts still exists and keep proliferating... so, about FB... they are a bunch of liars and they work only to have more "money in da bank"... don't be naive to think they have anything else on their minds
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  15. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 695   +676

    There are three kinds of 'fake news':

    1) Stories that are literally just completely made up. They originated in someone's head, completely detached from reality. This is normally the easy type to get rid of, as the websites it appears on tend to be new-ish, have few stories, no sources, no attribution or images of authors.
    2) Stories that are based on an event that happened, but presented so selectively, with such bias, that they lie by omission and commission. These are your hyper-partisan sources, like your Fox News-type companies.
    3) Stories that are true, but aren't liked by the subject of the story - it's easy to sow doubt into the minds of your audience by claiming that bad things about you are as false as information from the two categories above.

    We have a serious issue on our hands and it's becoming a meme and a catch phrase. It's really quite scary to me that you have a crazy melting pot of corrupt elites, malicious foreign powers and an uninformed public that's turning against itself. On our current trajectory, there's no way that this situation ends well.

    Can you please explain what you mean by socialist in the context of a shady, multi-billion dollar, capitalistic, advertising machine trying to improve its image and reputation?
    Evernessince likes this.
  16. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    The Supreme Court made it very clear that anybody, foreign or domestic, has a right to influence our elections just as much as they want. The decision is known as Citizens United. That decision opened the door all the way for corporations and foreign governments to contribute an unlimited amount of money to political campaigns, which involves advertising. The extreme hypocrisy of then decrying 'foreign interference' is just a political ploy.

    The types of disinformation are outlined by Bubbajim above. The vast, vast majority of it comes from domestic sources, and any kind of calm consideration would make it obvious that it's in no foreign state's self-interest to sow discord in the United States just for the sake of discord. Foreign countries do produce media for U.S. audiences to report news and present their point of view, and the social engineers in the U.S. then work tirelessly to influence the public into believing that anything positive about an 'enemy' country, even if true, is necessarily false, and anything negative about a 'friend' country, even if true, is necessarily false.

    The foreign state that influences political activity in the U.S. the most by far is Israel, with its lobbying of Congress. Anybody interested in finding out just what a foreign actor can do should research that.

    Facebook, Twitter, etc. were never intended to be edited journals. They are open platforms for creative contribution by anyone. Although technically private businesses, they have become so universally used that they are now de facto public utilities. Censorship on their part is extremely dangerous. As if to make the worst fears of those who want open access to the truth come to pass, Facebook now uses recommendations by the ultra right wing Atlantic Council, a NATO instrument, to direct them on who to censor. In effect they have become a tool of social engineering, and that's far more dangerous than being another source of nonsense that only people who are already inundated by nonsense and credulous of it would believe.
  17. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 846   +329

    From what I've seen on Facebook, no minds are being changed. Whatever view people come in with, is the view they leave with. . There are no debates, only arguments. People are there to express their views not to receive them. LMAO. Facebook take themselves way too seriously and think they are so important. They are neither. It's an entertainment and navel-gazing platform.
  18. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,164   +3,764

    That's exactly the problem. Facebook is setup to encourage arguments, not discussion.
    Danny101 likes this.
  19. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,640   +605

    I swear people who jumped on the internet bandwagon with smart phones..... Make a big disclaimer, USER POSTS MAY OR MAY NOT BE FACTS.
  20. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 695   +676

    I'd suggest Facebook is more suited to discussion than most online platforms. Anonymity makes people break from the convention of wanting to maintain their reputation - a crucial part of our evolutionary heritage for traits like empathy and conscientiousness - so they're more likely to troll, sneer and be dismissive. The fact that you're meant to use your real name, and pictures of yourself, remove the anonymity and you still want to be known as a good person.

    I don't use FB, but my girlfriend does, and I'm always surprised at the discussions she shows me. Sure, the level of analysis is a bit dumb, and there are a lot of ill-informed people, but it's less shouty, sarcastic and passive aggressive than you'd expect, at least in my experience. The same can't always be said for forums where purportedly 'smart' people congregate!
  21. Netfox

    Netfox TS Member Posts: 88   +8

    Great words! Thank you! Hope that other people will also understand it soon and instead of paying FB for ads will switch to other messengers and social media which think more about users.

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