Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Facebook to assist in preventing propaganda, misinformation: EC official

Facebook to assist in preventing propaganda, misinformation: EC official

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Facebook authorities have assured the Election Commission to provide assistance in preventing misinformation and propaganda on the social media platform following the announcement of the schedule for the 12th parliamentary election, EC Additional Secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath has said.

“The main topic of discussion was how to prevent propaganda and misinformation on Facebook. They (Facebook) will delete, remove content that promote hate speech, communalism, and other violations,” he said while talking to reporters following a meeting with a delegation from Facebook's parent company Meta Inc. at the Election Commission’s office in Dhaka’s Agargaon today.

The meeting was initially scheduled to be held with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal. However, the EC delegation was led by the additional secretary.

Describing today's meeting as a “preliminary discussion,” Debnath said a focal point will be established to manage communications with the social media giant.

“We will let them know what appears negative to us and they will take action accordingly,” he said.

The EC's additional secretary said such steps will be taken only for election-related content, adding that the process will start after the announcement of the schedule of the election.

A three-member delegation led by Ruzan Sarwar, head of public policy for Bangladesh at Facebook's parent company Meta, was present at the meeting. The delegation also included Head of APAC Global Response Aidan Hoy and Regulatory Specialist Eugene Poh.

On behalf of the Election Commission, Additional Secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath, Project Director of IDEA Project Brigadier General Abul Hasnat Mohammad Sayem and NID System Manager Muhammad Ashraf Hossain were present.

As parties step up their political activities ahead of the country’s 12th parliamentary election, the possibility of misinformation and propaganda campaigns on social media is becoming increasingly apparent.

In such a situation, the Election Commission (EC) sought Facebook’s help to prevent propaganda. 

The schedule for the 12th parliamentary election could be announced in late October or early November. Voting is expected to take place in the last week of December or the first week of January.