Fake Facebook accounts in Singapore taken to task ahead of expected GE
Social media giant says it has dedicated teams to protect integrity of election by tackling misinformation
Several fake Facebook accounts in Singapore have been identified by the social media giant as it prepares to protect the integrity of Singapore's General Election (GE).
Using a combination of tools, including artificial intelligence, Facebook found that these accounts demonstrated what it calls "inauthentic behaviour" and has taken them to task.
During a media briefing yesterday, Facebook head of public policy Clara Koh said it is committed to keeping the platform safe and has been removing such accounts to safeguard elections globally.
However, she declined to provide specific details on how many such accounts were found and what the violations were.
Last year alone, 50 entire networks, each typically consisting of hundreds of such accounts, were removed. These accounts are believed to be involved in campaigns to manipulate public debate, especially those relating to elections.
"Singapore's elections are a high priority. We publicly announce all of these takedowns for full transparency," Ms Koh said.
Last month, 253 accounts, 770 pages and 101 groups were removed from Facebook, and 240 accounts from Instagram, acquired by Facebook in 2014.
Most of them were from networks in Iraq and Tunisia.
Facebook said it had set up dedicated teams in July last year to protect Singapore's elections by tackling misinformation, ensuring civic integrity and through civic engagement.
Aside from taking down fake accounts and campaigns, third-party fact-checking has been introduced to tackle misinformation.
The checks by accredited fact-checkers will result in notices on posts that are misleading but have not crossed the threshold of violating Facebook's community guidelines.
Enhanced transparency for ads were also introduced last September, with detailed information on who put up the ad, the cost and the demographics targeted being made available through Facebook's Ad Library to ensure civic integrity.
Facebook said it has also engaged politicians to use the platform effectively and ensure they practise cyber hygiene to guard against cyber attacks.
Yesterday's briefing comes after the Elections Department (ELD) announced new measures on Monday to further safeguard the GE from foreign interference.
They pertain to the use of paid Internet election advertising (IEA), which have been misused in foreign jurisdictions.
The new measures require paid IEAs to be declared to the returning officer. Such advertisements must be accompanied by additional particulars on the ad itself, such as a "sponsored by" or "paid for by" notice.
The amounts spent on each IEA must be clearly stated by candidates in their election expenses returns.
In the British elections last year, there was reportedly a lot of false information being circulated using paid ads on social media.
A political party was alleged to have put up more than 6,700 ads, of which 90 per cent contained misleading claims.
In April, the ELD, together with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cyber Security Agency of Singapore issued advisories to political parties on the threat of foreign interference in the elections and cyber security risks.
The parties were warned they needed to guard against such threats as "Singapore politics should be decided by Singaporeans alone", it said.
Ms Koh said Facebook has learnt many lessons from elections globally in recent years and is confident of protecting the integrity of Singapore's GE.
"We will continue to do our proactive work to look for, remove, or at least take action against accounts that are misrepresenting themselves on our platform," she said.