Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has warned of a potential “civil unrest” in the United States as votes are tallied for this year’s Presidential Elections and that will be “a test” for the social network.
“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized there is a risk of civil unrest,” said Zuckerberg, adding “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.”
Confusion early this week over political ads at Facebook marred the onset of what was supposed to be a cooling-off period ahead of the US presidential election on November 3.
Rival parties protested that Facebook was undermining campaign efforts after blunders arose around a ban on new paid political ads being published in the week prior to the Election Day.
“We’re investigating the issues of some ads being paused incorrectly, and some advertisers having trouble making changes to their campaigns,” Facebook product manager Rob Leathern said in a tweet when the ban kicked on Tuesday.
Political ad publishers can avert the ban by getting the advertisements loaded into Facebook right before the deadline, and then dispersing them to a larger audience, later on, reports said.
Zuckerberg on Thursday said that this year’s elections were also a moment of assessment for Facebook after four years of work by the social network to root out foreign interference, voter suppression and calls for violence.
“Next week will certainly be a test for Facebook,” he said. “Election integrity is and will be an ongoing challenge. And I’m proud of the work that we have done here.”
Zuckerberg added that his focus on election safety will continue after next week. “We will keep anticipating new threats, evolving our approach.”
Earlier, Facebook faced intense criticism during the 2016 election, when the social media platform was accused of being used by Russian operatives to spread disinformation and destabilize the American electorate.
Zuckerberg said the company has come a long way since then, taking down 100 similar coordinated networks from Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere, and has built better systems to detect fake identities.
The company has now tightened its rules on political advertising ahead of the 2020 election in other ways too, including proscribing attempts to sabotage the electoral process.
In the Facebook paid posts library — a list viewable by the public — for President Donald Trump’s campaign, what appeared to be a victory ad is already visible.
“While next week will be a test for Facebook, I am proud of the work we have done here,” Zuckerberg said. “I also know that our work doesn’t stop after November 3rd,” Zuckerberg said.
He said: “So we will keep anticipating new threats, evolving our approach and fighting to protect the integrity of the democratic process and the right of people to make their voices heard around the world,” News 18 mentioned in its report.