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Democrats want Facebook to identify Americans subjected to Russian disinformation so they can counteract it

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 8/8/2018

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

That’s what the Democratic National Committee is arguing in a new proposal asking Facebook to identify American audiences subjected to Russian disinformation so that it can provide hard facts to those people.

The proposal, drawn up by the DNC’s chief technology officer Raffi Krikorian, would enable political campaigns to counteract misinformation about candidates and policies.

“What we would love to do is give every campaign (something) like a weather report to tell every campaign what is being said on social media in the morning and how they can combat it,” Krikorian told CNN on Wednesday.

Krikorian’s pitch comes as Facebook and other social media giants face mounting scrutiny over allowing disinformation to spread on its servers, in particular during the 2016 election.

A significant portion of the misinformation campaigns that gained traction on social media during the election have been traced to the Russian government’s multifaceted effort to undermine American democracy, disparage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and boost Trump’s chances, as laid out in a unanimous assessment compiled by the U.S. intelligence community.

Facebook spokespeople did not return requests for comment from the Daily News.

Krikorian said Facebook’s response to his proposal has been decent. “Okay, not as great as we want,” he said.

Krikorian clarified he’s not asking Facebook to identify individual users. Rather, he wants the social media behemoth to share information on particular “audiences.” For instance, if New York City residents receive inaccurate information about their polling locations, the DNC wants to be alerted to that so they can correct the record.

While testifying before Congress in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged his company had failed to prevent Russian bots from infiltrating its servers. “I’m sorry,” he told lawmakers.

a person standing in a kitchen © AFP / AFP/Getty Images

Since then, Facebook has beefed up its efforts to counteract disinformation, purging Russian bot accounts masquerading as U.S. political organizations and personalities and contracting third-party fact checkers to root out inaccurate content.

Last week, Facebook announced it had removed 32 Russia-controlled accounts and pages that posed as legitimate U.S. political groups. The accounts had a combined following of more than 290,000 users.

“I’d love to know what type of audiences were these hundreds of thousands of people, because we want to talk to them,” Krikorian said.

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