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Pakistan is all ready to undergo General Elections 2018 on July 25th, and there is no denial of the fact that social media including Facebook and Twitter are the virtual battlegrounds for all the political parties. Tweets and Statuses are the standard tools to make announcements, advertise political agendas and malign the opponents.

There is a substantial Pakistani audience on the social media, living in the country or abroad, taking part in the national politics. On the whole, it seems to have become a favorite activity of ours that builds or destroys a narrative of any person or group.

Not everything is as rosy as it appears on the surface. The same social media is the source of spreading false news and disgracing anyone to any extent without the fear of getting caught and punished.

To avoid what the world witnessed during the recent US Elections, Facebook has come up with specific measures to virtually secure the upcoming elections of 2018 in Pakistan by getting rid of fake or false news and abuse at the hands of opportunists.

It has hired 20,000 people for monitoring the general elections

The social media giant has brought onboard a safety and security workforce which it plans to increase to 20,000 people who will keep an eye on the elections all over the world and Pakistan is no exception.

Facebook says some people want to abuse the platform to harm the democratic process. However, it is committed to preventing and is taking many steps to protect and preserve the integrity of the upcoming elections 2018.

Ahead of Elections 2018 in Pakistan, Facebook has taken the following steps.

Combating False News

To combat the spread of utterly damaging false news phenomenon, Facebook has entered into a partnership with the AFP, a leading news agency, for fact-checking the content.

Facebook will begin a pilot programme of Third Party Fact Checking before the Elections 2018. The company believes it is a way to fight misinformation and its partners are well-respected fact-checkers.

How Will They Do It?

fact checking in elections 2018 Infographic

It will use a combination of technology and human review to detect and demote false news on Facebook.

Facebook will use signals, including feedback from people and clickbait sensationalist headlines, to predict potentially false stories for fact-checkers like AFP to review.

When fact-checkers rate a story as false, Facebook will significantly reduce its distribution in News Feed — dropping future views on average by more than 80%.

Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed.

When third-party fact-checkers write articles about the accuracy of a news story, It will show these articles in ‘Related Articles’ immediately below the story in News Feed and also send people and Page Admins notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false.

Facebook says it wants to empower people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share, and it does this by promoting news literacy and providing people with more context. In Pakistan, Facebook has partnered with Media Matters for Democracy and EngagePakistan to develop and distribute localized versions of its false news tips in Pakistan, with the aim of helping its community learn how to recognize and avoid false news and misinformation.

Facebook will post a Public Service Announcement at the top of News Feed

Facebook will also post a Public Service Announcement at the top of News Feed – visible to its entire Facebook community in Pakistan with a link to false news tips.

Getting Rid of Fake Accounts

Fake accounts can be a major distributor of harmful and misleading content and to fight the menace, it blocks millions of fake accounts at registration every day.

It continuously builds and updates the technical systems to make it easier to respond to reports of abuse, detect and remove spam, identify and eliminate fake accounts, and prevent accounts from being compromised. Its systems may detect repeated posting of the same content or aberrations in the volume of content creation.

In Q1 of 2018, Facebook removed nearly 6 million fake accounts

In Q1 of 2018, Facebook removed nearly 6 million fake accounts globally, 98.5% of which it detected before anyone reported them to it.

More Strict Guidelines for Ad Approval

Facebook has this new feature of showing ads across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other partner networks. But at the same time, Facebook has strengthened its process of approving ads so that fake announcements/news through these ads are discouraged. Besides improving its machine learning process to assess the ads, it has added more people to its team that reviews these ads.

Facebook has already announced last year that it no longer allows Pages that repeatedly share false news to advertising on Facebook.

Vote Reminder On Election Day

Most of the Facebook users start their morning with facebook statuses and newsfeeds. The social media giant will take advantage of this habit, and it will serve the community with a vote reminder on the election day which will appear as a megaphone at the top of their News Feed.

No More Page Hacks Of Political Parties/Celebrities

Facebook has also announced to secure candidate and party Pages to protect them from getting hacked impersonated. For this purpose, it will be sending out security emails to admins of such pages, as well as launching an election integrity website (www.facebookpakistanelectionintegrityinitiative.com) for candidates and parties in Pakistan.

This website will offer tips and best practices in English and Urdu for politicians and political parties on how to engage their followers and keep their Facebook Pages and accounts safe.

Collaboration With Election Commission Of Pakistan

Facebook has also developed an understanding with the Election Commission of Pakistan in the pretext of elections 2018. The platform is helping and educating the commission’s officials on how its platform works with the goal of increasing transparency, improving security, and promoting civic engagement.

It is also exploring new ways of working with the Election Commission of Pakistan to share a reminder about the ECP’s 8300 Voter SMS service, which is designed to give Pakistanis easy access to their voter record and polling station.

Asad Baig, Executive Director at Media Matters for Democracy, said: ‘We’re committed to defending freedom of expression, media, and the internet in Pakistan. With Facebook’s role in giving people in Pakistan a voice, the ability to connect and access to vital information, they are a natural and important partner as we look to ensure that Pakistanis have the opportunity to participate in free and fair elections.”

Arafat Mazhar, Director of Shehri Pakistan, added: “We’re excited to be working with Facebook to promote civic engagement and democracy in Pakistan. Preventing the spread of false news is a critical part of ensuring the integrity of our elections 2018, and we hope that, through this collaboration, we will make a positive step towards equipping Pakistanis with the tools they need to discern fact from fiction.”

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