Is Facebook Ready for the 2018 Midterms?

October 30, 2018
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by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist

Following the 2016 election, Facebook came under scrutiny from the press, Congress and the public for its role in disseminating disinformation — including false stories propagated by Russian operatives seeking to exploit divisions in American society and influence the election.

In advance of next week’s midterms, as FRONTLINE reports in part two of The Facebook Dilemma, the social media giant has mobilized an election team to monitor disinformation and delete fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters.

Will it work?

In the above scene from The Facebook Dilemma, FRONTLINE correspondent James Jacoby sits down with Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, who runs the election team. 

“Is there going to be real-time monitoring on election day of what’s going on on Facebook, and how are you gonna actually find things that may sow distrust in the election?” Jacoby asks.

“Absolutely. We’re gonna have a team on election day focused on that problem, and one thing that’s useful here is we’ve already done this in other elections,” Gleicher answers.

“And you’re confident that you can do that here?” Jacoby asks.

“I think that, yes, I’m confident that we can do this here,” Gleicher says.

In the clip, Jacoby also talks with Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s VP of social good, and one of the company’s longest-serving employees. He asks her what standard the public should hold Facebook to.

“I think the standard, the responsibility, what I’m focused on is amplifying good and minimizing the bad,” Gleit says. “And we need to be transparent about what we’re doing on both sides and you know, I think this is an ongoing discussion.”

“What’s an ongoing discussion?” Jacoby asks.

“How we’re doing on minimizing the bad,” Gleit responds.

Part one of The Facebook Dilemma — FRONTLINE’s investigation of the social network’s impact on privacy and democracy — is now streaming online. Watch part two of The Facebook Dilemma starting Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 10/9c on PBS stations (check local listings) and online.

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