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Ajit Mohan

Facebook’s pre-election drive involves daily removal of 1 Mn abusive accounts: Ajit Mohan

Ajit Mohan

Facebook has said it has made strides in its efforts to prevent online abuses in the Indian national election that starts this week but said that promoting “election integrity” is not something which it can do alone.

The social media giant is blocking or removing about one million accounts a day using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the company’s Managing Director and Vice President Ajit Mohan said in a blog post.

India, where Facebook has more users than in any other country, is shaping up as a major test. He said Facebook and its family of apps are making sure the elections are fair and free from interference, both foreign and domestic.

According to Mohan, tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning help the company, at a large scale, identify abusive or violating content, quickly locate it across the platform and remove it in bulk, dramatically reducing its ability to spread.

The facility is being expanded by adding 16 more Indian languages to its automatic translation system.

Facebook will activate new regional operations centres, focused on election integrity, in Singapore and Dublin. These teams include engineers, operations specialists and data scientists, and will work closely with staff in our Menlo Park, CA headquarters, as well as with local experts in Delhi.

This structure helps strengthen our global coordination and speed our response times, adding another layer of defence against false news, misinformation, hate speech, and voter suppression, Mohan said.

Deceptive political advertising has become another hot-button problem for the company. Facebook has toughened the rules in India and political ads now include “published by” and “paid by” disclaimers. Users can also access a library that allows them to search and find out more about political advertisements.

Political ad purchases in India now require either a certificate from the Election Commission or a physical address in India, as well as a phone number and group name of the entity purchasing the ad.

On April 1, social media giant had removed pages about  549 accounts and 187 pages linked to the Congress party.

Meanwhile, Facebook has also expanded its partnerships with third-party fact-checkers to seven accredited organizations in India. These groups cover eight of the most spoken languages — English, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Gujarati — and Facebook is looking to add more.

The company has also created a training process to help policymakers, candidates and their staff improve their cybersecurity and awareness for how their accounts could be hacked or abused.

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