After admitting that Facebook may have played a role in allowing Russian interests to influence the 2016 election, the social media company has begun to lay out its plans for how to stop that from happening in the future.
TechCrunch broke down CEO Mark Zuckerberg's nine-point plan, which was revealed in a live broadcast over Facebook.
For starters, they're working with federal investigators, sharing the information they have on the 3,000 or so ads that were affiliated with Russian sources. That being said, Wired points out that they've yet to agree to a meeting with Congress in an open hearing, like Twitter has.
Business Insider says that Facebook made about $100,000 by selling that ad space, but beyond that, they're mum on exactly how the ads circulated and what they actually said. That's probably just how it's going to be for the time being, as Zuckerberg pointed out. In his livestream, he said the company will "support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete."
Thing is, it was more than ads that possibly helped swing the election. As The Daily Beast reported, Russian propagandists used the platform to promote in-person rallies and flash mobs to support Trump's election. One such group, the so-called "troll factory" known as the Internet Research Agency, operates out of St. Petersberg. They ran a Facebook group called Being Patriotic, which was shut down shortly after Facebook announced that they were deleting accounts belonging to people who may have abused the platform to influence the election.
Zuckerberg goes on to say that the company would also continue their own investigation into the matter, to gain a better understanding of what happened, which would help them fight it in the future. They're also looking into increasing transparency when it comes to political ads (ensuring that you know not only where it's coming from and who paid for it, but who also else might be seeing the ad); allowing for more stringent review of the ads by hired Facebook employees; hiring 250 of said employees; working with political commissions; and working with other tech companies to combat this rising tide of intimidation.
To that point, Zuck also said that they're going to "create more services to protect our community while engaging in political discourse," essentially moving to protect people who are often shouted down or harassed as a result of voicing their political opinions.
This more or less goes hand in hand with another recent controversy where advertisers were allowed to target people searching for "Jew haters" and other hateful demographics. According to New York Magazine, COO Sheryl Sandberg said, "... these terms were used so infrequently, we did not discover this until ProPublica brought it to our attention. We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way — and that is on us. And we did not find it ourselves — and that is also on us."
To test their changes, Facebook will be keeping a close eye on the upcoming German elections. They've apparently already suspended multiple fake accounts, but "have not yet found a similar type of effort in Germany."
What's painfully clear is that Facebook has an incredible amount of work ahead of them. That's such a far cry from their earlier statements late last year, where Zuck argued that Facebook had no role in influencing or tampering with the election, calling such allegations "pretty crazy." He walked those comments back shortly after, and promised that they'd look into it.
This nine-point plan that he spoke about today seems to be the result of that nearly full year of research. Here's hoping that it's enough.