Facebook’s public policy director Neil Potts, left, and global director and head of public policy Canada, Kevin Chan, speak with the clerk as he places name plates for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as they wait to appear before The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Facebook’s public policy director Neil Potts, left, and global director and head of public policy Canada, Kevin Chan, speak with the clerk as he places name plates for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as they wait to appear before The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Facebook says its election integrity strategy is in effect in B.C.

Content promoting voter suppression will be removed under the company’s community standards

Facebook Canada says it is taking measures to ensure election integrity ahead of the Oct. 24 vote in British Columbia, but would not share how many posts containing misinformation, if any, have been removed or fact-checked.

Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, said the social media company has two methods for dealing with misinformation on its platforms.

Content promoting voter suppression will be removed under the company’s community standards and advertising policies, and it also works with independent fact-checkers to review “fake news” posts, he said.

Agence France-Presse and Radio-Canada are in charge of fact-checking for the B.C. election, but Facebook does not monitor their work or know if any posts have been flagged relating to the campaign. He did not say if any voter-suppression posts had been removed.

Marisha Goldhamer, senior editor for AFP fact-checking in Canada, said most claims it has fact checked from B.C. relate to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and COVID-19.

“We have not yet rated a misinformation claim directly related to the B.C. election on Facebook, but we are watching closely,” she said.

As part of the program, Canadians on Facebook will be informed if a story they shared has been rated as false, and pages that repeatedly share false news will be seen less across users’ news feeds.

“We are a platform and we do very much want to remain neutral. What we do do is we have the partnership with the fact-checkers, but they are completely independent in terms of what they fact-check, how much they fact-check and obviously what their conclusions are,” Chan said in a teleconference call with journalists.

The company does not moderate content in private messages, which are encrypted. However, it has limited the number of recipients that can receive a forwarded message to five, Chan said.

Facebook Canada has also offered political parties and candidates access to an emergency hotline to report concerns like suspected hacks, training in social media security and other kinds of support, Chan said.

Its advertising transparency policy means it now requires a “rigorous” identification authentication process and labelling system for topics related to policy or possible campaign issues, he said.

Advertisements that don’t meet those standards are blocked, Chan added. He did not say if any ads related to the B.C. election had been blocked.

The company has not identified any attempts at foreign interference in the B.C. election, Chan said.

Philip Mai, co-director of Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab, described the fact-checking strategy as a “minuscule” step in the right direction.

However, he said it can be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily mean the original post is removed from Facebook, only that it will now have a label indicating it has been fact-checked with a link to the fact-checking article. If a user doesn’t read closely, the label can make the post appear more official, he said.

Misinformation related to elections becomes a concern when it is amplified or planted for nefarious reasons, he said, adding two people can have a relatively harmless public conversation on social media that includes some errors.

A local or provincial election would only likely see interference if it had national or international implications, he said.

“Then you will see actors from outside the province who will try to tip the scale by putting their finger on it,” Mai said.

Mai also said there is a good reason for Facebook not to disclose the volume and types of posts it has taken down or moderated. That can give bad actors more information about what they can and cannot get away with, he said.

As a platform that wants to encourage expression, Chan said differentiating posts that are opinions versus intentional misstatements can be difficult.

For that reason, the company tends to focus on reviewing suspicious user behaviour, which can help it identify fake accounts for example, and leave the content reviews to third parties, he said.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC Votes 2020facebook

Just Posted

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Over 42,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine given to South Okanagan residents

That includes more than half of the residents in the Penticton local health area

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in Naramata

Expect big police presence in the area this week as the investigation continues

Keremeos RCMP reported May 12, 2021 that missing man Nathan Bell, 38, has been found safe. (Contributed)
Missing Keremeos man found safe

Nathan Bell, 38, was last seen April 29 before being located

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Michelle St. Pierre, UBCO’s 2021 graduate student researcher of the year, is hoping to change the discussion surrounding the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. (UBCO photo)
UBCO researcher examining therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs

Michelle St. Pierre has been researching the use of psychedelics since 2015

Most Read