Meta's anti-misinformation strategy for the 2022 midterms is mostly a repeat of 2020

Election officials and information labels will get the spotlight.

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Unused privacy booths are seen at a voting site in Tripp Commons inside the Memorial Union building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on Election Day in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, U.S. November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Bing Guan
REUTERS/Bing Guan

Meta has outlined its strategy for combatting misinformation during the 2022 US midterm elections, and they'll mostly sound familiar if you remember the company's 2020 approach. The Facebook and Instagram owner said it will maintain policies and protections "consistent" with the presidential election, including policies barring vote misinformation and linking people to trustworthy information. It will once again ban political ads during the last week of the election campaign. This isn't quite a carbon copy, however, as Meta is fine-tuning its methods in response to lessons learned two years ago.

To start, Meta is "elevating" post comments from local elections officials to make sure reliable polling information surfaces in conversations. The company is also acknowledging concerns that it used info labels too often in 2020 — for the 2022 midterms, it's planning to show labels in a "targeted and strategic way."

Meta's update comes just days after Twitter detailed its midterm strategy, and echoes the philosophy of its social media rival. Both are betting that their 2020 measures were largely adequate, and that it's just a question of refining those systems for 2022.

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Whether or not that's true is another matter. In a March 2021 study, advocacy group Avaaz said Meta didn't do enough to stem the flow of misinformation and allowed billions of views for known false content. Whistleblower Frances Haugen also maintains that Meta has generally struggled to fight bogus claims, and it's no secret that Meta had to extend its ban on political ads after the 2020 vote. Facebook didn't catch some false Brazilian election ads, according to Global Witness. Meta won't necessarily deal with serious problems during the midterms, but it's not guaranteed a smooth ride.

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