FB, Google ramp up efforts to curb interference in US polls


In a bid to protect election integrity, Facebook and Google on Thursday announced new updates that will help voters access authoritative information about the election and connect them to accurate and easy-to-find information about voting ahead of the November polls.

The social network giant that earlier faced flak for failing to keep foreign players with malicious intentions away from its platform during the 2016 US presidential election said that a new “Voting Information Center” will be available on Facebook and Instagram.

“It is also important that we help protect the integrity of our elections. With many states making changes to the voting process because of the pandemic, the center is also designed to help people navigate a confusing election process,” Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s Vice President of Product and Social Impact, wrote in a blog post.

People can access the center directly from the menu on Facebook and Instagram.

They can use it to check if they’re registered to vote — and if they are not, easily register through a link that takes them directly to their state website or Facebook’s nonpartisan partner.

They can also see if their state has expanded vote-by-mail options and request absentee or mail-in ballots from their state if it is available.

Facebook will help people know if a deadline is approaching so they do not miss it.

Last month, the social networking giant started adding labels to Facebook posts from federal politicians discussing voting so that people have easy access to the latest official election information.

“Starting today, we are rolling out these labels to apply to posts on voting in the US on Facebook and Instagram,” Gleit said.

Google said it has launched two features in Google Search with detailed information about how to register and how to vote.

“We know election deadlines and requirements vary by state, so no matter where you live, you can search for ‘how to register to vote,’ and you’ll find information about voter registration in your state. That includes deadlines, registration options, and an easy way to check the status of your registration,” the company said in a statement.

Google said it is making a very significant investment in election security.

“Our Threat Analysis Group (TAG) and our Trust and Safety teams work together to identify and prevent government-backed attacks against Google and our users,” said the company.

Additionally, to help people involved in campaigns, the company recently launched enhanced security for Google accounts to complement its Advanced Protection Programme, offering additional safeguards for G Suite and Gmail users during the election season.

People can easily self-nominate to receive additional security checks for active threats and suspicious activity, like hacking and phishing.

“We’re also updating our Political Ads Transparency Report to include more information about the election ads that run on our platform, new ways to sort campaign spending, and more frequent updates — giving people detailed insight into the political ads that run on Google and YouTube,” the company noted.



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