Facebook and the European elections

By establishing a “war room” in Dublin of 40 people ahead of the European elections to control and monitor online content posted on the social network, Facebook wants to launch a new tool to help prevent foreign interference in the upcoming elections. Advertisers now need to be authorized before purchasing political ads. To run electoral ads about highly debated and important issues related to the European Parliament elections, advertisers will be required to confirm their identity and include additional information about who is responsible for their ads.  Facebook introduced a three-step approach to improving the quality and authenticity of stories in the news feed. First, Facebook removes content that violates its community standards, which helps protect the safety and security of the platform. Second, for content that does not directly violate Facebook’s community standards, but still undermines the authenticity of the platform, Facebook will reduce its distribution by lowering it in the news feed.

But the social media company has been accused of censorship and bias. What is the boundary between “free speech” and suppression? How much power do social media companies have in controlling the news? “Social media companies talk big about free speech. But if it’s a choice between irritating free speech advocates by taking down a few arguably tasteless posts or facing furious politicians angry over online content, there’s only going to be one outcome. Don’t just blame politicians for the coming era of online censorship. Let’s not forget the role tech companies played in getting us here,” Mark Scott, chief technology correspondent at Politico wrote.

Read column by prof. Alberto Alemanno: “Some inconvenient truths about Facebook ahead of the European elections