National: Facebook, Google and Twitter Struggle to Handle November’s Election | Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel and Nicole Perlroth/The New York Times
The day after the New Hampshire primary last month, Facebook’s security team removed a network of fake accounts that originated in Iran, which had posted divisive partisan messages about the U.S. election inside private Facebook groups. Hours later, the social network learned the campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor, had sidestepped its political ad process by directly paying Instagram meme accounts to post in support of his presidential bid. That same day, a pro-Trump group called the Committee to Defend the President, which had previously run misleading Facebook ads, was found to be promoting a photo that falsely claimed to show Bernie Sanders supporters holding signs with divisive slogans such as “Illegal Aliens Deserve the Same as Our Veterans.” Facebook, Twitter, Google and other big tech companies have spent the past three years working to avoid a repeat of 2016, when their platforms were overrun by Russian trolls and used to amplify America’s partisan divide. The internet giants have since collectively spent billions of dollars hiring staff, fortifying their systems and developing new policies to prevent election meddling. But as the events of just one day — Feb. 12 — at Facebook showed, although the companies are better equipped to deal with the types of interference they faced in 2016, they are struggling to handle the new challenges of 2020.