Report: Facebook Introducing a ‘Virality Circuit Breaker’ to Prevent Spread of Viral Content

Lucas Nolan,
August 21st, 2020

According to a recent report from the Interface newsletter by Verge reporter Casey Newton, Facebook is piloting a new program that will monitor viral posts that gain millions of views to ensure that they don’t violate community standards.

The Verge reporter Casey Newton reports in the newsletter the Interface that social media giant Facebook is developing a new program to fight viral misinformation on the platform. In the newsletter, Newton lists suggestions made by the Center for American Progress (CAP) to prevent the spread of certain content on the platform.

Newton writes:

Still, tech platforms probably have more tools to manage the spread of misinformation than they’re using today. In its report “Fighting Coronavirus Misinformation and Disinformation,” the Center for American Progress lays out a trio of suggestions for doing just that. They are:

Virality circuit breakers. Platforms should detect, label, suspend algorithmic amplification, and prioritize rapid review and fact-checking of trending coronavirus content that displays reliable misinformation markers, which can be drawn from the existing body of coronavirus mis/disinformation.

Scan-and-suggest features. Platforms should develop privacy-sensitive features to scan draft posts, detect drafts discussing the coronavirus, and suggest quality information to users or provide them cues about being thoughtful or aware of trending mis/disinformation prior to publication.

Subject matter context additions. Social media platforms should embed quality information and relevant fact checks around posts on coronavirus topics. Providing in-post context by default can help equip users with the information they need to interpret the post content for themselves.

Newton further states that Facebook said late on Thursday that it is already piloting a program that resembles the “Virality circuit breakers” suggestion from CAP.

In a recent article by the New York Times, it was reported that Facebook is also working on ap political advertising “kill switch” to be activated if President Trump questions the legitimacy of presidential election results in November.

The NYT writes:

In a staff meeting later that week, Mr. Zuckerberg told employees that if political figures or commentators tried declaring victory in an election early, Facebook would consider adding a label to their posts explaining that the results were not final. Of Mr. Trump, Mr. Zuckerberg said the company was “in unprecedented territory with the president saying some of the things that he’s saying that I find quite troubling.” The meeting was reported earlier by BuzzFeed News.

Since then, executives have discussed the “kill switch” for political advertising, according to two employees, which would turn off political ads after Nov. 3 if the election’s outcome was not immediately clear or if Mr. Trump disputed the results.
The discussions remain fluid, and it is unclear if Facebook will follow through with the plan, three people close to the talks said.

In a call with reporters this month, Facebook executives said they had removed more than 110,000 pieces of content between March and July that violated the company’s election-related policies. They also said there was a lot about the election that they didn’t know.

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