Facebook announces plans to combat election 2020 misinformation

Facebook Monday announced changes to its social media platforms ahead of the 2020 election, while also warning about more attempts to disrupt elections around the world.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on a conference call told reporters he's confident the new measures rolling out on Facebook and Instagram will help address ongoing election interference attempts.

"I know that we're going to continue to face the threats. We will actually probably face more threats than we did in 2016, given that this has gotten so much attention," said Zuckerberg. The company outlined its goals to include fighting foreign interference, increasing transparency and reducing misinformation.

Changes include a more prominent label on debunked posts on both Instagram and Facebook deemed "false" by a third party fact-checker, along with a new security tool called "Facebook Protect" for candidates and campaigns to monitor hacking attempts.

Content from state-contolled media will also be labeled as such.

"In 2020, we've been warned. We know that social media is being used to manipulate and provide disinformation not only from foreign governments but domestic actors as well," said tech analyst Larry Magid.

The Menlo Park-based company also announced it removed four clusters of accounts based in Iran and Russia that were spreading misinformation and seeking to disrupt elections in the US, North Africa and Latin America.

The head of the company's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, says Facebook has taken down 50 such networks in the past year.

"Our goal isn't just to take these things down. It's that over time, we can adjust and make changes, targeted changes to the platform to make these behaviors much more difficult," said Gleicher.

Magid believes Facebook's security changes are partly a business decision as well as responding to pressure from critics who say the tech company isn't doing enough.

"Sure they're reacting to pressure. But it's also in their business interest not to be sort of a cesspool of misinformation. That will ultimately turn users away," said Magid.

Facebook says it has more than 35,000 people working on its security initiatives and is spending billions of dollars on the issue.