Facebook’s new moves to push voting in Federal Election

Facebook has unveiled what it calls a “suite of civic engagement tools” to encourage Canadians to vote in the Federal Election.

The goal is to drive voter registration and provide information about when and where to vote. It has also introduced a new Instagram Story sticker that voters will be able to share to let friends and followers know they’ve voted.

As part of the announcement, Facebook also emphasized that it is “protecting the election from interference”—an important detail since so many people still associate Facebook with being the platform of choice for bad actors in recent elections.

Facebook also revealed the winning designs for the “I Voted” Instagram Story sticker, selected via a design competition at OCAD U and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The winners were Charlotte Durnford-Dionne from OCAD U, and Kassidy Bernard from NSCAD. They won $5,000 and a trip to San Francisco to finalize their concept with the Instagram design team.

New tools to encourage voting include a registration reminder and a top-of-feed notification reminding people to register and share a link with friends. The election day notice will be a top-of-feed reminder the night before the election, while the “I Voted” sticker will be in the stickers tray of Facebook Camera when users create a story about voting.

Aside from those initiatives, Facebook said it is “working hard to prevent bad actors from interfering with elections on Facebook and Instagram.” That includes new transparency requirements for ads about issues, politics and elections.

To tackle the problem of “fake news,” Facebook formed a fact-checking partnership with Agency France-Presse in 2018 as part of its Election Integrity Initiative.

“In addition to the fact-checking program, our tactics include disrupting financial incentives, taking action against fake accounts, applying machine learning to help diminish spam, reducing the posts people see that link to low-quality web pages, and providing people with easier access to additional perspectives and information,” said Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada at the time.

In September 2018, fact-checking was expanded to include text posts, video and images. If the content violates Facebook’s standards it is removed, as are fake accounts. Content that is false but does not violate standards is not removed, but Facebook tightens its distribution so that future views are reduced by more than 80% and people are notified that the content has been rated false by fact checkers.

David Brown