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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Real estate has been moving very briskly in Kimberley since last summer. Bulletin file
Hot Kimberley real estate market leads to tightened inventory

Real estate sales in the entire Kootenay region have been brisk for… Continue reading

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Left: Oakland County Jail. Right: Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on November 2, 2005. (CP/Chuck Stoody)
Former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi arrested for suspected DUI: report

The Canadian winger had a complicated history in the NHL

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

AstraZeneca’s vaccine ready for use at the vaccination centre in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Reichel/dpa via AP
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on seniors

NACI panel said vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are preferred for seniors ‘due to suggested superior efficacy’

Most Read