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Facebook to Combat Hate Speech, Misinformation, Voter Suppression Amid Assembly Elections in India

© REUTERS / Carlos JassoThe Facebook logo displayed on a mobile phone is seen through a magnifying glass in this picture illustration taken February 9, 2021
The Facebook logo displayed on a mobile phone is seen through a magnifying glass in this picture illustration taken February 9, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.03.2021
Earlier in March, Twitter said that it will be labeling synthetic and manipulated content on its platform to tackle the spread of misinformation around the ongoing eight-phase Assembly Elections in India which commenced on 27 March. Four Indian states -- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Union Territory Puducherry are currently poll-bound.

In a bid to tackle the spread of hate content, fake news and voter suppression on its platform, social networking giant Facebook has said it will be taking strict actions to remove questionable content around the ongoing elections in India.

In a detailed blog post dated 30 March, Facebook claimed it was improving efforts to reduce repeat offender content, working with third-party fact-checkers while attempting to ensure that no voter is discouraged from participating in the elections over any kind of fake news – including warnings of contracting COVID from voting centres.

“Based on lessons we’ve learned from past elections in India and globally, we are taking steps to enhance civic engagement, combat hate speech, limit misinformation and remove voter suppression. We also continue to closely partner with election authorities, including to set up a high priority channel to remove content that breaks our rules or is against local law after receiving valid legal orders,” the US-based social networking platform said in its post.

In addition, Facebook is striving to enhance the civic engagement of its over 400 million Indian users around the ongoing Assembly Elections.

“We have designed Election Day reminders to give voters accurate information and encourage voters to share this information with friends on Facebook and WhatsApp,” the post added.

​In recent years, all major social networking platforms have been called out several times for playing an important role in influencing elections all over the world.

Facebook, especially, came under fire during the 2016 presidential campaign in the US, after voters were subjected to various forms of tech-driven efforts to influence their decisions.

Moreover, in 2018, Facebook admitted to mishandling and exposing the data of over 50 million of its users to UK-based political data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was also questioned by US government officials about the impact this data breach had on the 2016 presidential elections.

Along with Twitter, which claims to be working pro-actively in assisting Indians in poll-bound regions to make “informed decisions”, video-hub YouTube is also testing a feature to hide “Dislike” counts under the clips posted on its platform, aiming to eradicate favor-biased trolling for unethical reasons.

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