Here Are the Steps Facebook Took to Safeguard Germany’s Federal Elections

The social network removed 'tens of thousands' of fake accounts

Facebook worked closely with German authorities prior to this past weekend's federal elections
ricul/iStock

Facebook outlined the steps it took to help curb fake news prior to this past weekend’s federal elections in Germany.

Richard Allan, the social network’s vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, said in a Newsroom post that in order to avoid the issues Facebook encountered during recent elections in the U.S. and France, the company worked with German officials to:

  • Remove “tens of thousands” of fake accounts by uncovering suspicious patterns of activity.
  • Test its Related Articles feature in Germany, giving users “easier access to different perspectives” and using machine learning to weed out clickbait and spam.
  • Created a tab for the country’s political parties, where they were able to outline their positions on key issues.
  • Launched an Election Hub to give users information on which candidates were on their ballots.
  • Launched an in-application notification on the day after the vote to encourage users to find and follow their newly elected representatives.
  • Worked closely with German authorities, including the Federal Office for Information Security, to provide training on online security issues, also setting up a dedicated reporting channel for that agency for issues related to security and authenticity in the federal elections.
  • Supported national and international media partners including El Pais, Funke Mediengruppe, RTL News and T-Online in their use of Facebook Live to report on and provide context on the voting.

Did it work? Allan wrote, “These actions did not eliminate misinformation entirely in this election, but they did make it harder to spread and less likely to appear in people’s News Feeds. Studies concluded that the level of false news was low. We learned a lot, and we will continue to apply those lessons in other forthcoming elections.”

He continued, “Protecting the integrity of our platforms during elections is a huge focus for us and something we are committed to—particularly in the face of hostile and coordinated interventions. Staying ahead of those who are trying to misuse our service is a constant effort led by our security and integrity teams.”