Facebook Inc. is launching an initiative to help Canadian politicians and parties protect their accounts in the lead-up to the next federal election, while acknowledging the difficulties of policing fake news and misleading ads on its platform. The social-media company will launch a Canadian “election integrity initiative” on Thursday, Kevin Chan, Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, said in an interview. The changes will include an emergency e-mail address politicians and parties can contact to have Facebook staff shut down and restore accounts that have been hacked. In addition, Mr. Chan said, Facebook will issue a cyberhygiene guide they can use to secure their pages, and launch a partnership with a non-profit group called MediaSmarts to educate voters on the dangers of fake news.
The initiative is an attempt to address the threats to Canadian elections that were laid out in a recent report by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and stop hackers and other forces from disrupting the country’s democratic process during the 2019 vote. It is also a response to broader concerns over the growing presence of fake news and misinformation campaigns on the internet.
“You’re never 100-per-cent sure that nothing is going to get through, but we are certainly putting all efforts into ensuring that we are making the platform as inhospitable as possible for the bad actors or malicious content,” Mr. Chan said.
Facebook has been under pressure in the United States since it gave about 3,000 ads earlier this month to congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the election, the ads focused largely on divisive social and political issues.