Facebook Provides Update on Safeguarding Elections in Myanmar

Voters in that country go to the polls Nov. 8

The skyline of Yangon, Myanmar, at Shwedagon Pagoda Sean Pavone/iStock

The general election in Myanmar is set for Sunday, Nov. 8, and Facebook provided details this week on extra steps it is taking to ensure the integrity of the election on its platform.

Content identified as potential hate speech by the social network’s proactive detection technology will see its distribution significantly reduced, and it will be removed altogether if it is determined to be in violation of Facebook’s policies.

Facebook said it is using technology to identify new words and phrases associated with hate speech in Myanmar and either removing posts containing that language or reducing its distribution, adding that the list of Myanmar-specific prohibited words and phrases is being continually updated.

The social network is expanding on its standard practice of removing accounts that repeatedly violate its community standards by improving its efforts to temporarily reduce the distribution of content from accounts that are repeat offenders. Holders of those accounts will be provided with additional information.

Facebook’s stable of third-party fact-checking partners includes three partners in Myanmar who are certified by the International Fact-Checking Network, and the warning screens that the social network adds to information that is rated as false by its fact-checkers now includes the Burmese language.

The social network is directing people to authoritative sources of information on topics including how to check voter lists and voting times and locations. The pages for the Union Election Commission, Vote MM and First-Time Voters for 2020 are being made more accessible to users.

Facebook has been working to train civil society organizations and reporters across Myanmar on journalist safety, media and digital literacy and the social network’s community standards and third-party fact-checking program, holding a monthly television talk show on digital literacy, Tea Talks, and introducing tools in newsrooms including insights tool CrowdTangle.

The social network also held one month of webinars on election best practices with 50 people from 13 different news organizations in the country, including ethnic media.

Facebook wrote in its Newsroom post, “Looking ahead, we will continue to support our news partners in Myanmar beyond the election. And we’ll continue to scale up our community standards enforcement efforts to meet the challenge of protecting elections and keeping people safe, now and in the future.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.