Why it matters: Since 2016, Facebook has had to deal with the problem of election interference. We can expect it to happen again this November, but rather than coming from the likes of Russia, the social network is preparing for post-election meddling from President Trump.
Since admitting that foreign powers used the platform to influence the 2016 election through misinformation campaigns, Facebook has implemented a number of solutions to try and address similar problems occurring again: War rooms, postcards, new policies, collaboration with intelligence agencies, and more.
The New York Times reports that Facebook employees are now running through different post-election scenarios as part of its efforts to battle election interference, including attempts by Trump and his team to call the results into question.
Citing people with knowledge of Facebook’s plans, one scenario being prepared for is Trump using the service to delegitimize the results and wrongly state he won another four-years in office. He could also claim the results are invalid due to the use of mail-in ballots—an allegation that got him into trouble with Twitter last May.
Facebook will have to tread carefully to avoid accusations of censorship and conservative bias, of course. Unlike Twitter, it has never flagged any of Trump’s tweets, priding itself as a platform for free speech; it was only a few months ago that Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook does not want to be an “arbiter of truth.”
Zuckerberg has reportedly told staff that should any politician try to claim victory early on the site, it would consider adding a label explaining that the results were not final. There’s also talk of a “Kill Switch” for political advertising, which would turn off all political ads after November 3 if the election outcome was not immediately clear or the results are disputed.
Trump is no fan of Facebook, and this news will likely sour the president's relationship with social media firms even more. “The lengths to which Big Tech will go to obstruct President Trump truly know no bounds,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager. “Facebook is a social media website – not the arbiter of election results.”