Facebook is reportedly planning for Trump to meddle with election results

When the election interference comes from inside the White House.

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Karissa Bell
August 21st, 2020
In this article: news, gear
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University in a 'Conversation on Free Expression" in Washington, DC on October 17, 2019. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS via Getty Images

Facebook, which has long resisted putting checks on political speech, is now grappling with an uncomfortable new scenario: what should it do if the president is the one trying to interfere with election results. 

The New York Times reports that the social network is now gaming out various scenarios as part of its pre-election work to prevent interference on its platform. It’s not clear exactly just what steps Facebook may take, but the fact that the company is walking through various scenarios suggests it intends to act should Trump try to meddle with the results. 

“Facebook employees are laying out contingency plans and walking through postelection scenarios that include attempts by Mr. Trump or his campaign to use the platform to delegitimize the results,” The New York Times reports. The company is also gaming out what it would do if Trump uses Facebook to “wrongly claim on the site that he won another four-year term,” or if he “tries to invalidate the results by declaring that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots or that other groups meddled with the vote.”

Trump has made repeated false claims about mail-in ballots and election fraud in recent months. Experts have warned the comments could trigger a “nightmare scenario” on election day as it’s likely that results won’t be official for at least several days after polls close.

Facebook executives have previously hinted that they may be preparing for such scenarios. The company said last week that it was “actively speaking with election officials about the potential of misinformation around election results as an emerging threat.” The post didn’t mention the president, but noted that “a prolonged ballot process has the potential to be exploited in order to sow distrust in the election outcome.” Facebook also said it would rely on its voting information center to share authoritative information about election results. 

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