Technology

Facebook alerts nation that Joe Biden won the presidency even as Donald Trump vows to fight

Facebook alerted millions of U.S. users that Joe Biden was the projected winner of the presidential election at the top of Facebook and Instagram feeds even as President Donald Trump vowed to fight on.

The social media company made the announcement Saturday after major news outlets called the election in Biden’s favor.

The notification says: “A Presidential Winner Has Been Projected” and then “Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election.”

The notification also included a timestamp, 11 a.m. ET, and a link to the company’s Voting Information Center for election results.

Facebook helped register a record 4.4 million voters in a get-out-the-vote drive for the November election.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg set the goal in June when he announced the massive effort to increase turnout in a USA TODAY op-ed.

The unprecedented ballot-box push exceeded previous Facebook efforts and large-scale registration campaigns such as Rock the Vote in 2016, which registered 1.7 million.

Facebook pulled out all the stops to encourage more Americans to hit the polls, part of an unprecedented effort by social media companies to increase turnout during a highly contentious election cycle.

Facebook and other social media companies stepped in when the coronavirus has interrupted traditional voter registration drives door-to-door, on college campuses or in mall parking lots and voter registration numbers plunged as the pandemic spread in the spring.

The get-out-the-vote initiative benefited from the vast reach Facebook, Instagram and Messenger have in American life. It was also an acknowledgment of the harm from foreign interference, divisive messages, falsehoods and conspiracy theories in previous election cycles.

On Thursday, Facebook said it would deploy “break glass” measures to restrict the flow of election misinformation as the nation waited for election results.

“As vote counting continues, we are seeing more reports of inaccurate claims about the election. While many of these claims have low engagement on our platform, we are taking additional temporary steps, which we’ve previously discussed, to keep this content from reaching more people,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook said it’s demoting content on Facebook and Instagram, including debunked claims about voting. It is also limiting the distribution of live videos that may relate to the election.

These are some of the most significant steps by Facebook to curb potentially dangerous misinformation that has spread since Election Day, at times amplified by Trump or his allies. Trump’s social media posts on Facebook and Twitter have been flagged numerous times for being misleading.

In a news conference Thursday evening, Trump accused “big tech” of trying to “steal” the election, echoing the rallying cry of supporters on social media.

Earlier Thursday, Facebook shut down a fast-growing pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” group calling for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote” over “worrying calls for violence.”

A former Facebook content moderator warned that regardless of the election’s outcome, she expected calls for violence.

Viana Ferguson, who worked as a moderator from 2016 to 2019 and spoke as part of a news briefing organized by the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of Facebook critics, said users of the platform have become increasingly bold about openly discussing “violence they are willing to execute.”

“It’s going to happen, doesn’t matter who wins,” she said. “Facebook needs to be prepared for that.”

For some on the political right, the company’s efforts to curb harmful content have been too aggressive.

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