In the wake of last November’s presidential election, many observers blamed Facebook for not doing enough to prevent so-called “election-hacking.” The company has introduced several measures since to help fight the spread of fake or misleading content, but it went even further this week, funding a group at Harvard dedicated to tackling the issue.
Facebook announced it will make a $500,000 donation to the group, called Defending Digital Democracy, which seeks to protect political parties, voting systems and information providers from cyberattacks seeking to influence the U.S. political process. Perhaps most importantly, the site took ownership of the issue — but of course, without admitting any fault in the first place.
“A huge amount of harm falls outside what we considered to be our problem,” Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said. “The real problem is that those issues are generally not anybody else’s problem either.”
Indeed, Facebook could make a huge difference in preserving the integrity of our elections if it throws its full weight behind the problem.
“Just in the US in 2018, there will be 435 house races, 33 senate races, 39 gubernatorial races and thousands of local elections,” Stamos told the Financial Times. “These people have probably not had to stand against nation-state adversaries in the past.”
Of course, whether or not users are comfortable with Facebook entering the political realm this way is another question altogether.