NEWS2 July 2019

Facebook says it will tackle census misinformation

News North America Public Sector Technology

US – Facebook plans to treat the 2020 US census in the same way it would handle an election to prevent misuse of the platform for interference.

Facebook smartphone apps_crop

The company says it is setting up a team to focus specifically on the census, and says it will outline a new policy later in the year to safeguard against misinformation relating to the decennial count.

The efforts relate to ongoing efforts to avoid Facebook being misused to meddle with elections, following the 2016 presidential election.

In the latest update on the progress of Facebook’s audit conducted by civil rights groups, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg outlined the plans, saying it would line up “people, policies and technology” to protect against census interference.

Efforts to protect the census will be enforced using artificial intelligence, the social network said, but did not provide further information on what this would entail. It also plans to work with non-partisan groups to “help promote active participation in the census”.

Sandberg said: “Just as civil rights groups helped us better prepare for the 2018 elections, their guidance has been key as we prepare for the 2020 census and upcoming elections around the world.”

In May, a Census Bureau official said the bureau is concerned that data collected in the census could be hacked. It is reportedly working with the Department of Homeland Security to defend against such attempts.