Facebook is planning an election integrity program to prevent the 2019 Canadian elections from cyber threats, according to a new report by Reuters.
In a statement announcing its efforts, Facebook said Canada's minister of democratic institutions will speak at the launch event next week. The company spokesperson did not reveal details of the project, but Anatoliy Gruzd, a Ryerson University academic who is slated to speak at the event, commented on the spread of fake news on social media.
"The spread of misinformation online can sway vote," Gruzd said. "Platforms like Facebook and Twitter really need to put technical measures in place that would prevent the spread of fake information or the creation of groups that may promote hate speech".
Facebook recently announced that an operation likely based in Russia placed thousands of advertisments – connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts in violation of its policies – on its platform between June 2015 and May 2017. The ads covered divisive topics such as immigration, race and gay rights and could have played a role in meddling with US presidential elections.
Prompted by the flak the announcement drew, the company also changed its advertising rules, redefining who can make money from advertising on its network.
Back in June, Canada's electronic spy agency issued a warning, advising political parties to place necessary safeguards to fend off cyber threats. The agency said hackers will "very likely" try to influence the elections.
The latest move from Facebook also comes as internet companies continue their crackdown against online interference with politics and elections. Twitter is expected to report to U.S. congressional investigators whether Russia used its ad platform to promote polarizing messaging, while Google, which said it has not seen any Russia-linked ads, launched a project to defend election organizers and civic groups against cyber attacks.