Facebook released an update on its effort to protect the 2017 German federal elections Wednesday, saying that in the run up to the Bundestagswahl, the company had “removed tens of thousands of fake accounts in Germany.” The news comes six days after Facebook founder logged in to the social network to outline how the company is combating the spread of fake news on its site. The transparency comes as investigations have revealed that Russian election interference on the social network influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“Protecting the integrity of our platforms during elections is a huge focus for us and something we are committed to—particularly in the face of hostile and co-ordinated interventions,” said Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. “Staying ahead of those who are trying to misuse our service is a constant effort led by our security and integrity teams.”
Allan outlined a number of initiatives Facebook (FB) undertook to monitor posts related to Germany’s election on the social network. Looking for suspicious patterns of activity led the company to remove more than 20,000 fake accounts. The company also tested its Related Articles feature, which provides differing perspectives on issues raised by news stories posted by users. Facebook also used machine learning to cut down on clickbait and spam from entering users’ News Feeds.
“These actions did not eliminate misinformation entirely in this election—but they did make it harder to spread,” noted Allan. “We learned a lot, and will continue to apply those lessons in other forthcoming elections.”
The next major election will be the U.S. gubernatorial elections for Virginia and New Jersey on November 7.