Remitente: Claudia Giraldo.
Grupo de interés: Sector privado.
What is your perception of the Deterioration of Public Debate in the Americas? What challenges do you think are specific to strengthening democracies in the digital environment in our region?
The information ecosystem is far larger than the digital environment.
It seems to be common sense that as polarization grows, so does the deterioration of public debate, especially around big democratic events (e.g. elections). Nonetheless, research (reference: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks/) indicates that social media users are more likely to encounter a greater diversity of ideas than non-users, and Stanford (reference: https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/cross-polar.pdf ) also found that in many countries, polarization was on the rise before Facebook existed.
Challenges to strengthening democracies in the digital environment also include fighting low quality content. Moderating content through the enforcement of our Community Standards (reference: https://transparency.fb.com/policies/community-standards/) in a transparent and responsible way is one way to contribute to this challenge. But we can and do more: for example, there are types of content that might not violate Facebook’s Community Standards but are still problematic. For these, we reduce distribution, such as what happens to content deemed false but one of the more than 80 independent fact-checking organizations we work with (reference: https://web.facebook.com/gpa/blog/fact-checking-on-facebook?_rdc=1&_rdr).
What similarities or differences exist between the Deterioration of Public Debate in the Americas and globally, driven by the impact of the internet?
The empirical basis of this question is not clear. There are many different points of view about changing quality of discourse and public debate in many languages, but relatively few appear to be empirically grounded.
Given the global nature of the Internet, over the past four years, industry, government and civil society have worked to build our collective response to influence operations.
Since 2017, the security teams at Meta have developed policies, automated detection tools, and enforcement frameworks to tackle deceptive actors — both foreign and domestic.
We have identified and taken down over 150 networks of Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from 2017 – 2020. Of those, roughly 60 were foreign influence operations (IO that targets the public debate in a different country from which it operates); roughly 70 were domestic influence operations (IO that targets public debate in the same country from which it operates), and the remainder were “mixed” operations (operations that target both domestic and foreign audiences).
What do you think should be the priority challenges for strengthening Public Debate in the Americas?
Meta develops tools to give more transparency to political and electoral advertising (such as the Ad Library) and establishes alliances with data verification organizations, as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent the misuse of Meta and its applications. In addition, in recent years, we tripled the size of teams that work on integrity issues, now having more than 40,000 people dedicated to this task, distributed in about 40 specialized units.
During electoral periods we work to (1) eliminate accounts and content that violate Community Standards and Advertising Policies, (2) reduce the distribution of false news and inauthentic content such as clickbaits, and (3) provide more context to users about the posts they see. We also investigate and dismantle covert operations of foreign and national influence that are based on fake accounts. In the last three years, more than 100 coordinated inauthentic behavior networks (CIBs) have been removed from the platform and we keep the public informed about it. People can also publish erroneous information, even in good faith. To meet this challenge, a Fact Checking Program was created in conjunction with a global network of more than 80 independent fact-checkers, that independently review content in more than 60 languages. Every time fact-checkers rate content as fake, Facebook significantly reduces its distribution so that fewer people will see it. We also notify about the falsity of the information to the people who previously shared that content.
We also work together with electoral justice authorities to build bridges that help to provide greater speed in the follow-up of critical cases in the context of the elections. Memorandums of understanding (MOU) have been signed in the last year with the electoral authorities of Argentina (CNE), Brazil (TSE), Colombia (CNE) and Mexico (INE). These MOUs include the possibility of activating informational products on platforms and also delivering training activities, support deliverables and online resources available to the entire political electoral landscape.
Sharing trustworthy information is equally important, thus, informational products are developed and shared with voting eligible users. Two examples are (1) the Voter Information Unit with information to consult the electoral roll and the COVID-19 protocols to attend the polls safely and (2) the Election Day Reminder where citizens will find on voting day a message at the top of their Feed reminding them about the official information.
It is also important to hold valuable discussions with experts, academics and civil society especially in light of attempts from politicians, representatives and government officials to be exempted from content moderation, as we have seen being provided for in Chile and Brazil recently, which inconsistently both bans moderation and creates liabilities that might affect platforms’ efforts against misinformation and safety.
Finally, and thanks to the MOU we signed with the Organization of American States (OAS), we proactively engaged with the different election observation missions that the OAS has deployed throughout Latin American to highlight Meta’s election integrity efforts, receive valuable intel on how we can better protect the elections, and continue to strengthen our relationship with national electoral authorities.
Do you know of any initiative, practice, or project to strengthen Public Debate outside the Americas that may be useful for our region? Do you think we could adopt these initiatives?
We Think Digital (reference: https://wethinkdigital.fb.com/) was launched in 2019 as Meta’s digital literacy program, with resources aimed to help people of all ages think critically and share thoughtfully online. We designed the program in partnership with experts from across Asia Pacific, where we aimed to train 2 million people across 8 countries in Asia Pacific by 2020.
The topics covered include privacy, safety, security, digital discourse and knowing your digital footprint.
To date, We Think Digital has been launched in 15 countries across Asia Pacific, with resources available in over 10 different languages. The program engages with over 45 government and industry partners.
In the Philippines, we have trained over 400,000 Filipinos through in-person workshops and more recently via online webinars and materials. Those who have participated in training sessions reported more confidence on how they will act and deal with different scenarios they encounter online.
We Think Digital builds on our work developing safety resources over the past decade, including Safety Center, Bullying Prevention Hub, Parents Portal, and Youth Portal. It responds to the evolution of the concept of digital literacy: from the skills needed to search for information online to connecting and engaging with a global community not defined by geography or by shared cultural understanding. https://www.facebook.com/safety
Since 2020 we have delivered a program called my «My Digital World” (reference: https://mydigitalworld.fb.com/ssa/) in Sub Saharan Africa to two and a half million young Africans who wish to be responsible and impactful digital citizens. This Pan-African program consolidates all our digital literacy programs into one course. It is evidence of Meta’s commitment to the well-being of individuals and communities who come to our platforms and is designed to build awareness on responsible online behavior, critical thinking and understanding social issues often via shared digital technology.
While all the module support the strengthening of public debate in SSA, one of the most impactful elements in this course is the «Digital Engagement Module» (Reference: https://mydigitalworld.fb.com/ssa/lesson/building-your-advocacy-network/#anchor-5.2). It supports participants as they seek to become advocates for change, build advocacy networks and raise awareness of key issues through traditional and social media.