Don’t trust what you see on Facebook should always be the rule rather than the exception.
That’s no different on Election Day, even after Facebook promised it would add context to posts declaring winners prior to official vote tally announcements.
The social media company made that policy earlier in the month because it was unlikely that all votes would be counted on Election Day due to an expansion of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. But now it’s wiggling out of it saying, oh we didn’t really mean it as a blanket statement on all premature declarations, just on ones about the overall race.
Here’s what Facebook said on Oct. 7: “If a candidate or party declares premature victory before a race is called by major media outlets, we will add more specific information in the notifications that counting is still in progress and no winner has been determined.”
After the Trump campaign declared victory in Florida — before major media outlets had — Facebook walked that back, according to the Wall Street Journal. Doing so created a loophole that seems either shortsighted or made up on the fly as the presidential race hinges on battleground states like Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and the country has known that for some time. Facebook has yet to return Mashable’s request for comment about its new clarification.
After social media platforms played host to misinformation campaigns in 2016 with little oversight, the tech companies vowed to do better this time around. Facebook, Twitter, and others have enacted policies to add further context to misleading posts, outright block posts, or prevent people from opening links. There have been mistakes along the way, and the question still remains about how hands off social media companies should be when misinformation has dangerous consequences.
When Trump tweeted that the Democrats were trying to steal the election — a political strategy meant to rally his base — Twitter added a label noting the tweet was misleading within minutes.
It took Facebook nearly 25 minutes to do something similar. (Although Facebook’s label about final results seems ill-fitting for this post.)
It took more than 25 minutes for Facebook to act with a label on the most watched account in the world. This is a company that’s touted its election preparedness for months.
How many people saw that post without the label?
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) November 4, 2020
These labels will not save us from misinformation. Facebook will always find a loophole.