Facebook taps AI to block abusive accounts ahead of Lok Sabha elections

Facebook taps AI to block abusive accounts ahead of Lok Sabha elections
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pexels
8 Apr, 2019

Social networking giant Facebook is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to block around a million abusive accounts a day in the build-up to India’s general election.

“Facebook and our family of apps continue our efforts to help make sure the elections are fair and free from interference, both foreign and domestic,” Ajit Mohan, Facebook India’s managing director and vice president, said in a blog post. 

Mohan further said that Facebook plans to launch new regional operations centres in Singapore and Dublin that will focus on election integrity. These teams will have engineers, operations specialists and data scientists working closely with Facebook staff at its headquarters in the US along with local experts in Delhi.

“Tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning help the company, at a large scale, identify abusive or violating content, quickly locate it across the platform and remove it in bulk, dramatically reducing its ability to spread,” said Mohan.

He said the process had begun more than 18 months ago with detailed planning and risk assessment across Facebook’s platforms.

“The findings allowed us to concentrate our work on key areas, including blocking and removing fake accounts; fighting the spread of misinformation; stopping abuse by domestic actors; spotting attempts at foreign meddling; and taking action against inauthentic coordinated campaigns,” Mohan said.

The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant had come under fire in the wake of revelations last year that it had shared data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. It has been attempting to rebuild its image in the wake of that controversy.

Facebook recently joined other social media companies in a voluntary code of ethics for the Indian general election, which begins on April 11, with the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Facebook had earlier launched transparency tools for political advertisements, giving people a clearer picture of who is placing the ads they see. Anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics has to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who paid for or published the ad.

In recent months, Facebook has expanded its partnerships with third-party fact-checkers to seven accredited organisations in India.

Similarly, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has also been taking steps to curb the spread of misinformation ahead of the Indian elections.