Facebook to label national origin of some political posts

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FILE – This March 29, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square. Facebook, Google and other platforms are taking unprecedented steps to protect public health as potentially dangerous coronavirus misinformation spreads around the world. In a possible first, Facebook removed a post by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro that touted unproven viral benefits of a malaria drug, while Twitter nixed an associated video. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Facebook said it will label some election-related posts with their geographic origin in an attempt to curb political misinformation by foreign-based pages that mimic legitimate groups and political parties.

The new policy will apply to popular election-related pages, and will stamp every post they make on Facebook and Instagram with its origin. For instance, an Instagram account targeting U.S. voters but based in Brazil will have every post labeled with “Based in Brazil.” Users then can swipe to find out more information about the account.

It’s the social network’s latest attempt to fight election-related misinformation. Russia and other countries have been using social media to try to influence political discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere, often by masquerading as local interest groups.

Facebook will initially target pages based outside of the U.S. that reach a large number of people inside the U.S. The labels, the company says, will help people “gauge the reliability and authenticity” of what they see.

While the labels add a new layer of information — and one users won’t have to click to find — it’s unlikely to help with more insidious attempts to influence the November presidential election and sow political discord in the U.S.

Last fall, for instance, Facebook removed dozens of pages and accounts that purported to be Americans focused on U.S. politics, but which actually originated in Iran and Russia. This March, meanwhile, both Twitter and Facebook announced takedowns of sophisticated foreign operations showing that showed Russian trolls outsourcing election interference efforts to countries in West Africa.

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