A few days before the German federal elections, Facebook took unprecedented steps. A series of account deletions that helped disseminate false information about COVID-19 and encourage violent response to COVID restrictions.
The crackdown announced on September 16 is the first use of Facebook’s new “Cooperative Social Harm” policy, avoiding rules for hate speech and false information rather than state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. The aim is to thwart the average user who has begun an increasingly sophisticated effort.
For the German network, there are nearly 150 accounts, pages and groups Link A loose coalition of the so-called Keldenken movement, protesting the blockade in Germany, including vaccine and mask opponents, conspiracy theorists, and far-right extremists.
Facebook is doing this Innovative response To potentially harmful content. The far-right commentator accused it of censorship. However, reviews of deleted content, and many Querdenken posts still available, reveal that Facebook’s behavior is at best modest. In the worst case, critics say it could have been a tactic to counter complaints that it wasn’t enough to stop harmful content.
“This action seems to be motivated by Facebook’s desire to act on policy makers in the days before the election, not a comprehensive effort to serve the public,” social media said. Researchers at Reset, a UK-based nonprofit organization that has criticized the role of Facebook, concluded. Democratic discourse.
Facebook regularly recruits journalists for accounts created in 2018 under a policy that prohibits “cooperative cheating,” a term used to describe groups and people who work together to mislead others. I am updating to. A malicious person trying to interfere with elections and politics in countries around the world.
However, there were restrictions because not all of Facebook’s harmful behaviors were “not real.” There are many completely genuine groups that use social media to incite violence, disseminate false information, and inflict hatred. ..
However, even with the new rules, the deletion remains problematic. It’s hard to tell exactly what a social network is achieving, as it’s not clear what harmful material remains on Facebook.
A good example: Querdenken network. Reset has already monitored accounts deleted by Facebook and issued a report concluding that only a small portion of the content related to Querdenken was deleted and many similar posts were retained.
The dangers of COVID-19 extremism were highlighted a few days after Facebook’s announcement that there were young German gas station workers Shot deadly By a man who refused to wear a mask. The suspect followed some of the far-right users on Twitter and expressed negative views on immigration and the government.
Facebook initially refused to provide examples of deleted Querdenken content, but eventually released four posts to the Associated Press that were no different from the content still available on Facebook. They included a post that falsely stated that the vaccine would create new viral variants, and another post that wanted the police to die, dispelling violent protests against COVID restrictions.
An analysis of resetting comments deleted by Facebook found that many were actually written by people trying to refute Querdenken’s argument and did not contain false information.
Facebook said deleting an account did not mean a total ban on Querdenken, but a carefully measured response to users who were working together to disseminate harmful content in violation of the rules. I defended that action.
According to David Agranovich, Facebook’s Director of Global Threat Destruction, Facebook plans to improve and expand its use of the new policy in the future.
“This is the beginning,” he told AP on Monday. “This is to extend the network disruption model to address emerging threats.”
This approach aims to strike a balance between acknowledging diverse views and preventing the spread of harmful content, Agranovich said.
According to Cliff Lampe, a professor of information at the University of Michigan who studies social media, the new policy could make a big difference in the platform’s ability to combat harmful speech.
“In the past they tried to crush cockroaches, but there’s always more,” he said. “I can spend the whole day stepping on my feet and I can’t go anywhere. Chasing the network is a wise attempt.”
Simon Hegeric, a political scientist at the Technische Universität München, said the removal of Keldenken’s network may have been justified, but it should question Facebook’s role in democratic debate.
Facebook seems to be using Germany as a “test case” for the new policy, according to Hegeric.
“Facebook is really intervening in German politics,” Hegeric said. “The COVID situation is one of the biggest issues in elections. It’s probably correct that these sites have a lot of false information, but it’s still a very political issue and Facebook is intervening in it. increase.”
Members of the Querdenken movement responded angry to Facebook’s decision, but many expressed a lack of surprise.
“Major removals continue,” one supporter posted to the still active Querdenken Facebook group.
Reported by Providence, Rhode Island, Klepper contributed to this report from Oakland, California.
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‘The Big Delete:’ Inside Facebook’s crackdown in Germany | Work
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