Bracing for the midterms, Facebook builds a 'war room'

10 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago Thursday, October 18 2018 Oct 18, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:32:00 AM CDT October 18, 2018 in News
By: Donie O'Sullivan and Laurie Segall, CNN Business
Photo Courtesy: CNN

    (CNN) -- Facebook has set up a "war room" at its California headquarters as part of its plans to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election, when misinformation was rampant on the platform.

The room is designed to bring leaders from the company's policy, legal, and security teams together as political campaigning ramps up in the final weeks before November's midterm elections.

The company has been under intense scrutiny from Congress, federal investigators, and the media, after it emerged that Russian government-linked operatives manipulated its platform to target Americans in 2016.

The company says it has hired thousands of new moderators, invested in artificial intelligence, enlisted the help of former US intelligence officials, and brought in new rules for political advertising — all in an effort to tackle a misinformation crisis.

Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook's director of elections and head of civic engagement, told CNN that the war room was "really the culmination of two years of massive investments we've made both in people and technology to ensure that our platforms are safe and secure for elections. So it builds upon work that we've done to crack down on fake accounts, on combating the spread of fake news on our platforms."

Chakrabarti said the trolls are getting more sophisticated.

"We know that the bad actors out there who are looking to interfere in elections, they are definitely well funded," he said. "They're committed and they are getting increasingly sophisticated. So as one example, I think they've been getting better at being able to mask the location that they're coming from."

In most cases the company's moderators and team leaders make decisions about content that may violate the platform's policy, Chakrabarti said. However, if an issue arises that is "particularly nuanced," it may be considered by the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

"We've established a chain of command all the way up to Mark and Sheryl to be able to weigh in on the most consequential things," he said.

In August, the company removed a network of suspected Russian-linked pages that were posing as American activists.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that the company had removed a network of 1,700 fake Women's March pages that were run from Bangladesh.

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