Facebook Details Its Preparations for Inauguration Day

By | January 11, 2021

Facebook detailed steps it is putting in place to protect the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris Jan. 20.

Vice president of integrity Guy Rosen and vp of global policy management Monika Bickert wrote in a Newsroom post Monday, “We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year. But our planning took on new urgency after last week’s violence in Washington, D.C., and we are treating the next two weeks as a major civic event. We’re taking additional steps and using the same teams and technologies we used during the general election to stop misinformation and content that could incite further violence during these next few weeks.”

Content containing the phrase “stop the steal” will be removed from Facebook and Instagram under the company’s policy on coordinating harm.

Public group Stop the Steal 2020, which grew to over 300,000 members, was removed from Facebook on the day after Election Day, and Rosen and Bickert said the social network has continued to remove pages, groups and events that violate any of its policies, including calls for violence.

They wrote, “We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome, and that will continue. But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the U.S. presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in D.C., we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration. It may take some time to scale up our enforcement of this new step, but we have already removed a significant number of posts.”

Facebook’s Elections Operations Center, which remained active through the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia Jan. 5, will continue operating at least through Jan. 22 to monitor and respond to threats in real-time.

The company said it continues to proactively reach out to federal and local law enforcement and to provide information in response to valid legal requests.

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of outgoing President Donald Trump remain suspended indefinitely, and the pause on all ads in the U.S. related to politics or elections remains in effect.

Following the inauguration, labels on posts that attempt to delegitimize the election results will reflect that Biden is the sitting president, and the social network’s Voting Information Center will remain active to give users a place for reliable information and updates about the electoral process.

During inauguration week, a news digest will be added to the social network’s Facebook News tab, including live video of the ceremony from the U.S. Capitol, as well as stories from reliable news sources curated by a team from Facebook.

Finally, Facebook made several changes regarding groups last week. Group administrators are increasingly being required to review and approve posts before they go live. Comments were automatically disabled on posts in groups that have a high rate of hate speech or content that incites violence. And the social network is using artificial intelligence to further demote content that may violate its policies.

Rosen and Bickert concluded, “We will stay vigilant to additional threats and take further action if necessary to keep people safe and informed.”