Facebook dodges questions about Russian interference in upcoming US midterm elections

  • In a conference call with reporters, Facebook said it expects to find "bad actors" trying to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections, but did not say if it has found activity already.
  • It also defended its decision to allow "fake news" on its platform but it will control how many people see it by reducing the frequency of how often those items appears in News Feeds.
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018.

Facebook expects to see "bad actors" trying to interfere with the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, but it stopped short of saying whether it's found malicious activity already.

The company held a conference call on Tuesday with reporters regarding its policies to improve political advertising, lessen fake news and other initiatives ahead of election season.

When reportes asked if there was any indication Russians or other groups were planning an attack to sway the midterm elections, Facebook said it thought "bad actors" would try to use the platform for this purpose. It said it was monitoring for malicious activity, and would notify the proper authorities if anything was spotted.

However despite repeated questions, the company would not confirm or deny whether it had already found suspicious behavior, only noting that giving guidance could interfere with internal or governmental investigations.

The company also reiterated its policy to reduce the frequency of misinformation on its platform instead of removing it, which has gained prominence in recent days as some onlookers have questioned the decision to allow conspiracy theory media outlet Infowars to continue to post false content.

News Feed product manager Tessa Lyons explained while it allows posts that do not violate policies even if it is misinformation, it "doesn't mean they should get distribution." People who share fake news will receive a notification the item has been flagged as untrue, as well as a notice if Facebook determines at a later time the information is false. However, the company reserves the right to take down posts if are intended to incite violence.