Meta Releases Plan to Suppress Misinformation in 2022 Midterm Elections

With US midterms approaching, the company discusses its security measures and efforts to restrict misinformation.

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Meta is preparing for this year's US midterm elections. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is expanding features and security functions ahead of the 2022 US midterm elections on Nov. 8, the company said Tuesday in a blog post.

Building on its work in the 2020 election cycle, the social media giant said it will remove misinformation about election dates, voting locations, voter eligibility and election outcomes. Meta will also remove content that incites violence and will reject ads that discourage voting or challenge an election's legitimacy.

As a standard tool for political campaigns to reach millions of potential voters, Meta's sites will continue earlier efforts to combat misinformation, election interference and online threats.

Instagram and Facebook users will be able to find information on how, when and where to vote through the apps' Voter Information Center and in-app feeds. Meta said that Facebook users will notice elevated comments from local election officials in order to provide trustworthy, reliable information. 

"We're also investing in proactive threat detection and expanding our policies to help address coordinated harassment and threats of violence against election officials and poll workers," Nick Clegg, Meta's president of global affairs, said in the blog post

As with 2020 election, people can receive notifications with state and local voting details in their feeds, and this year, messages may be sent in a second, non-English language too. As an example, people may see notifications appear in English and Spanish if the app's language is set to English but they consume a sizable amount of content in Spanish. On Instagram, users can expect to see more voting sticker options to choose from for Stories.

Meta will continue to apply labels to election-related posts as part of its fact-checking process. But based on user feedback, label use will be rolled back to become more targeted. In addition to addressing misinformation, the company is cracking down on harassment and hate speech. 

Misinformation related to elections is an ongoing problem for social networks. Twitter laid out its plan to combat false information related to the midterms last week. 

Meta said Tuesday that it has "exposed and disrupted dozens of networks," both inside and beyond the US, that have attempted to interfere with US elections, removing more than 97% of content that violated its Community Standards before it was even reported. 

"We've banned more than 270 white supremacist organizations, and removed 2.5 million pieces of content tied to organized hate globally on Facebook in the first quarter of 2022," Clegg added.

Meta's efforts to actively protect elections have changed dramatically since the 2016 cycle. Facebook was embroiled in criticism after that election when it failed to address widespread misinformation and disinformation on the social network, which Russian operatives used to influence the 2016 US presidential election. At first, CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed the criticism and said it was a "pretty crazy idea" that disinformation on Facebook influenced the election. But in the following years, Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company was focused on traditional hackers, rather than on coordinated disinformation campaigns.