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Facebook enhances security measures ahead of Pakistan elections

Facebook says steps have been taken to protect the elections from abuse and exploitation through the social networking platform

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With the July 25 general elections approaching in Pakistan, social networking site Facebook has said it has enhanced security measures on the platform. Facebook faced serious criticism for spread of disinformation through the platform during the 2016 US presidential elections. Keeping in mind the Pakistan elections, the social media giant is said to have increased the number of safety and security people working on this area.

Quoting company spokesman Sarim Aziz, Dawn News reported that Facebook had deputed dedicated teams to focus on preventing abuse on the platform during Pakistan elections, and started training of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s officials with the goal of increasing transparency and helping authorities promote civic engagement.

Ensuring the integrity of elections around the world, including in Pakistan, Aziz told Dawn, Facebook had taken a number of steps to protect elections from abuse and exploitation, “including enhanced security measures to protect pages of political parties and candidates, improving the enforcement of its ads policies and greater ads and page transparency, better use of machine learning to combat fake accounts, and working to reduce the spread of false news”.

Replying to a query about the security measures and Facebook’s coordination with the Pakistani authorities, he said, “We have also dramatically increased the number of safety and security people working on this area, with dedicated teams focused on preventing abuse on our platform during elections.”

Speaking about the training being imparted to election panel officials, Aziz said, “We have been working with Election Commission of Pakistan to better understand and address the specific challenges faced here in Pakistan, to inform our community on civic issues, and help ensure that candidates are safe on the platform. Facebook has also been training election commission officials on how our platform works, with the goal of increasing transparency, improving security, and helping authorities promote civic engagement.”

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had announced that it was improving security and transparency ahead of elections in different countries, including Pakistan. Zuckerberg had said Facebook would make it mandatory for all political ads to clearly mention who was paying for the message and verify their identity “in a bid to curb outside election interference”.

Replying to a query, Aziz also spoke about the measures being taken to remove fake accounts and groups operating in and outside the country keeping in mind the ensuing Pakistan elections.

“Fake accounts can be a major distributor of harmful and misleading content, and we work hard to keep them off the platform,” he said.