Yesterday Facebook launched an "election integrity initiative" designed to protect Canadian politicians and political parties from hackers, fake news and misleading ads. The company is still smarting from revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and it now acknowledges that it also had to decommission tens of thousands of illicit pages during the recent French and German elections.
What is striking about the evolution of the Facebook story is the extent to which citizens and their political leaders appear to have blithely accepted foreign propaganda in popular news feeds as the new normal. The irony is rich. Facebook itself will coach our political elites in the ways of "cyberhygiene," and "educate voters on the danger of fake news." If you're old-fashioned and take a jaded view of corporations providing the solutions to problems they have themselves created, the following will cheer you up. During the 2019 federal election in Canada Facebook intends to run "an emergency telephone line" politicians can call to report incidents of online malfeasance. The most insidious twenty-first-century threat to democracy will thus be met with a nineteenth-century technology. "Press one if you are the prime minister, press two if you are the leader of the official opposition...."