By Jonathan Vanian
May 17, 2018

Facebook is partnering with the Atlantic Council in another effort to combat election-related propaganda and misinformation from proliferating on its service.

The social networking giant said Thursday that a partnership with the Washington D.C.-based think tank would help it better spot disinformation during upcoming world elections.

The partnership is one of a number of steps Facebook is taking to prevent the spread of propaganda and fake news after failing to stop it from spreading on its service in the run up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Additionally, organizations with ties to the Russian government distributed misleading information through Facebook ads in 2016 that were intended to sow divisions among Americans.

In the months since news of the misinformation became public, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has tried to regain public trust in the company by repeatedly speaking about the company’s latest efforts to combat disinformation. Some of those efforts include partnering with news organizations like Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press to fact check news, photos, and videos.

Facebook didn’t provide many details on how the Atlantic Council would help spot potential disinformation, only to that the think tank’s cyber forensic team would work with Facebook staff to deliver “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats.”

“This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world,” Facebook global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath said in a blog post.

The Atlantic Council’s digital forensic team said in a post on Medium that its staff has been investigating propaganda about “everything from the conflict in Syria, to protests in Russia, to politically motivated automation and bots in Malaysia.”

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The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab acting director Graham Brookie acknowledged “some within our community may view this partnership with skepticism,” likely referring to doubts that Facebook is serious about curtailing disinformation rather than just looking for good publicity.

“We would expect nothing less and encourage more,” Brookie wrote. “In fact, a healthy skepticism is a vital part of digital resilience.”

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