According to a new analysis from the human rights organisation Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy (C4D) Team at New York University, Facebook and TikTok failed to stop paid adverts that propagated false information about voting in the 2022 midterm elections.
Global Witness attempted to run 10 identical adverts in both English and Spanish on each of Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube using fake accounts that were created for the purpose of the test. “Outright incorrect and misleading electoral misinformation” was present in every advertisement.
These advertisements propagated untruths, such as the notion that voters needed to be immunised in order to cast a ballot in person or that they would need to vote twice in order for their votes to be counted. Other ads merely gave the incorrect date for people to vote.
The advertisements targeted voters in the competitive states of Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The method of distributing this false material through each company’s official advertising platform was then carried out by Global Witness.
The submitted advertising were all against the rules of the three platforms.
However, YouTube was the only website that blocked all of these adverts that promoted false information. Additionally, YouTube was the sole website that took down the accounts that tried to run the advertising.
Global Witness Senior Advisor Jon Lloyd said in a statement that “we have seen critical democratic processes damaged for years by misinformation, lies, and hate being propagated on social media platforms – the corporations themselves even profess to realise the problem.”
However, this study demonstrates that they are still merely doing enough to stop threats to democracy surfacing on their platforms.”