Maybe Facebook has learned from its mistakes in the United States: according to a report this week, the social media giant deleted “tens of thousands” of fake accounts in the run-up to the recent German parliamentary election.
The company has faced relentless criticism at home for its role in allowing Russian-bought ads to live on the site during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. That’s why CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a video before last weekend’s German election, the company’s first major test since the November election in the U.S., vowing to safeguard against similar threats.
“We have been working to ensure the integrity of the German elections this weekend, from taking actions against thousands of fake accounts, to partnering with public authorities like the Federal Office for Information Security, to sharing security practices with the candidates and parties,” Zuckerberg said.
Richard Allan, Facebook vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, went even further, claiming that “tens of thousands” of accounts had been deleted. He also carefully noted that these efforts did not entirely solve the problem.
“These actions did not eliminate misinformation entirely in this election—but they did make it harder to spread, and less likely to appear in people’s News Feeds,” he said.
It’s certainly a good thing that Facebook is taking seriously the job of protecting its users from misinformation. But it’s hard not to wish the company had made that commitment earlier.