Facebook has announced a series of initiatives that aim to maintain integrity in the Ontario provincial election this June.
In the lead up to the June 7th election day, Facebook says it will be reminding all Ontario candidates and their Facebook Page admins about two-factor authentication (2FA) and confirming they have access to Facebook’s cyber threats crisis line.
As well, Facebook says it will launch a new ‘Reality Check’ PSA, in partnership with MediaSmarts, which helps instruct political parties on how to verify information online during the campaign process.
This is in addition to the ad transparency feature rolled out to all Canadians on Facebook in October 2017, allowing users to select a ‘View Ads’ option on a Facebook Page and see all ads the Page runs on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
With this tool, Facebook says it aims to help users become more informed about different types of advertising, even those that don’t directly target them or that are from another social media platform.
Facebook says it will be rolling out similar initiatives to other provinces for their elections in the coming months.
The individual provincial initiatives are part of a larger effort from Facebook to maintain election integrity in Canada. Following a June 2017 report that the 2019 Canadian federal election will likely be targeted by foreign agents, Facebook announced an integrity initiative in Canada that aims to promote digital news literacy and safety in partnership with MediaSmarts.
At the beginning of 2018, Facebook also published a candid blog post admitting the social network is not always good for democracy. Specifically, the company cited its involvement in the spread of fake news surround the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Since then, the company has taken strides to ensure a similar outcome does not occur in Canada and other countries.
“At Facebook, we take our role in securing the integrity of elections very seriously,” said Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada, in a press statement. “These are just some of the steps we are taking in Canada and around the world to ensure our platform is a place where authentic civic engagement thrives.”
“Telling good information from bad online has become an essential part of being an engaged citizen,” added Matthew Johnson, director of education at MediaSmarts. “We’re committed to working with Facebook to reach as many Canadians as possible with information and tools to grow digital literacy. This is one of the important ways we can fight the spread of misinformation and false news.”