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Facebook hit by election interference content ’10 years before Zuckerberg admitted it’ | Scientific and technical news

Facebook was encountering election interference content as early as 2006, about 10 years before Mark Zuckerberg first acknowledged the problem, the platform’s former head of global public policy has claimed.

speaking to Sky News Big Ideas Live Eventwhere experts and industry leaders discussed the biggest science and technology issues of our time, Paul Kelly said staff have to deal with them “all the time”.

“We saw the early aspects of disinformation campaigns building around elections as early as 2006 and in 2008,” Kelly revealed during a panel on the future of big tech companies.

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“We actually did a number of projects to try to increase civic engagement on the platform at that time. And we certainly saw people trying to use misinformation to influence the early elections. of this phase.”

Facebook founder Zuckerberg admitted in 2017 that he should have been worried about fake news before the 2016 presidential election, when donald trump won the race for the White House, more seriously.

He had dismissed the notion of ‘crazy’, but then wrote in a public post in September 2017: “To call it crazy was dismissive and I regret that.

“It’s too big an issue to be dismissive of.”

Mr Kelly was answering a question from a member of the public about the link between social media and increased division in US politics and elsewhere.

Asked by Sky News tech correspondent Rowland Manthorpe about the gap between Facebook tackling misinformation and Zuckerberg acknowledging the problem, Mr Kelly said “the scale has changed”.

“I was gone at that time,” he said.

“But we had certainly seen attempts at election disinformation in previous races.”

A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company Meta said it had ‘developed a comprehensive approach to running elections on our platform’ – ‘reflecting years of work’ and ‘billions of dollars of investment’ .

They added that they had “dedicated teams working on elections,” including this month’s US midterms.

“Meta has hundreds of people working in more than 40 teams to fight election and voter interference, fight misinformation, and find and remove infringing content and accounts,” they said.

“We have also developed stricter policies to stop allegations of delegitimization or fraud on our services.”