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

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Coun. Ted Dillon receives a certificate for 30 years of service from Ponoka County Regional Fire Services Chief Dennis Jones. (Photo submitted)
Ponoka councillor recognized for 30 years’ fire service

Coun. Ted Dillon presented with certificate at Oct. 13 council meeting

File photo
Bantam Broncs lose tight 42-38 game to the Titans

The Bantam Broncs played an offensive shootout game against the Drumheller Titans… Continue reading

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Most Read