Top line

Facebook said Thursday it would downgrade content, “our systems predict it may be misinformation,” as conspiracy theories of electoral fraud – including those promoted by the president and his children – quickly spread on the social networking platform.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, testifies before the House Financial Services Committee … [+] at the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill October 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Key factors

A Facebook spokesperson told Forbes that the company is seeing “more reports of inaccurate election allegations” and “while many of those allegations on our platform show little commitment, we are taking additional temporary steps.”

These include “downgrading content on Facebook and Instagram that our systems predict may be misinformation, including debunked allegations of voting” and “restricting the distribution of live video that may be related to the election on Facebook”.

These are the main steps Facebook has taken to limit misinformation in elections that the company only wanted to use in extremely chaotic or violent circumstances.

So far, Facebook has flagged posts, including from President Donald Trump, and used its third-party fact-checking system. However, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about election fraud in battlefield states were still being spread, sometimes by the president’s sons, Eric and Don Jr.

Key background

The additional measures come after Facebook removed Stop the Steal, a fast-growing group that accused Democrats of stealing elections and included several members inciting violence, earlier Thursday. The company also blocked the hashtag #StopTheSteal along with #Sharpiegate, falsely claiming that election officials gave Trump supporters sharpies to fill out ballot papers that conspiracy theorists falsely claim would invalidate their votes. Also this week, Facebook said it would put labels on candidates’ posts declaring an early victory in individual states, not just the overall race.


Internal Facebook tools show that the platform is becoming more and more brand new. They are up 45% since Oct. 31, according to an internal metric that measures “violence and incitement trends,” BuzzFeed News reported.