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Bot that’s not true: Facebook pledges crack down on campaign lies

Misinformation, interference and fraud in relation to the federal election will have no place on popular social media platforms, Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – has promised.

Mar 15, 2022, updated Mar 15, 2022
Meta says its artificially intelligent bots will be working to detect misinformation ahead of the federal election campaign. (Image Glen Carrie/Unsplash).

Meta says its artificially intelligent bots will be working to detect misinformation ahead of the federal election campaign. (Image Glen Carrie/Unsplash).

The company  announced new fact-checking partnerships, more transparency around political advertising and a campaign to improve user awareness of misleading content.

Learning from past elections internationally and at home, Meta Australia’s head of public policy Josh Machin says the tech giant is rolling out the most comprehensive package of election integrity measures Australia has ever had.

Mr Machin says just limiting or removing harmful or misleading electoral misinformation is not enough.

In addition, users will also be given more context about a post to help them make an informed decision on what to read, trust and share, he says.

In April, a fact-check information campaign on how people can recognise and avoid misinformation will be translated into Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic.

“Those are the three largest communities of non-English speaking people within Australia and we’ve been very conscious of the risk of potential misinformation, particularly amongst the Chinese-speaking community,” Machin said.

Users wanting to run advertisements on political or social issues will also need to verify their identity to ensure authenticity and that they are located in Australia.

A searchable library will reveal what is being spent – and by who – on election advertisements on Meta’s platforms.

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Machin said Meta had been working with the Australian Electoral Commission and law enforcement as well as non-government think tanks and academic experts to understand potential misinformation risks ahead of the upcoming election campaign.

Artificially intelligent bots have also been improved to detect and block fake accounts that are often behind misinformation campaigns.

Along with existing fact-checking partnerships with the Agence France Presse and Australian Associated Press, Meta will bring the RMIT Fact Lab on board for the election.

Machin says the fact-checkers will look at the broader political debate by regular users – rather than politicians or political parties – to scrutinise claims that might traditionally be missed.

“We will be providing one-off grants to all three fact-checkers in order to increase their capacity in the lead up to the election, making sure they have resources to look at potential misinformation claims that come up in the context of the election,” Mr Machin said.

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