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Facebook Outlines New Measures to Protect the Integrity of the US Presidential Election

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The US Presidential Election campaigns are gaining momentum, and the expectation is that it will be one of most divisive and volatile political battles in the nation’s history.

And already, there have been accusations of questionable tactics, and concerns around the use of misinformation in order to gain advantage. Questions have been raised around the voting process itself, the use of image editing and ‘deepfakes‘, and foreign interference already. And this is before we’ve really reached the main campaign period – over the next two months, you can expect there to be much, much more on this front, as the contenders seek to get an edge in the race.

Facebook knows that it’ll caught be in the middle of this, just as it was in 2016, and along with the various new measures that it’s implemented to better detect political misuse, and protect voters from such, this week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg some additional steps that it’s taking in order to uphold the integrity of the 2020 US Presidential Election.

Here’s what’s been announced:

Voter Information Push

Facebook says that it will present authoritative information on voting at the top of Facebook and Instagram “almost every day until the election”, via its Voting Information Center.

Facebook Voting Info

The informational prompts are part of Facebook’s effort to get more people to the polls, with a goal of encouraging four million more Americans to vote

Hopefully, through these prompts, Facebook will be able to counter voting misinformation, and encourage more people to have their see on the nation’s leadership.

The informational prompts will include video tutorials on how to vote, and updates on deadlines for registering and voting in your state.

Blocking New Political Ads in the Lead-Up to the Poll

After weighing a political advertising blackout period in the days leading into the vote, Facebook has now decided to only block new political ads during the final week of the campaign.

As explained by Zuckerberg:

“It’s important that campaigns can run get out the vote campaigns, and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech, but in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims. So in the week before the election, we won’t accept new political or issue ads.”

That will mean that existing ads can still run, while the respective campaigns will also be able to adjust the targeting and budget for their previously launched promotions. But new ads will not be authorized in that final week.

Many have criticized the decision, including the Trump campaign, which says that President Trump will essentially be “silenced by the Silicon Valley Mafia” in the crucial, final stretch of the campaign.

Which is not true – Trump, and indeed any other candidate, will still be able to post to their Facebook Page in that last week. They just won’t be able to boost such or push new ads, while the option to amplify previously existing campaigns will still afford them the capacity to amplify their messaging via paid means.

Some have suggested that the ruling is too soft, and that Facebook should implement a full blackout period to stop voter manipulation, while others have noted that the expected uptick in early and mail-in voting this year will render the measure useless either way.

But there is some solid logic to the measure.

Last year, in the Australian Federal Election, the Liberal Coalition won the vote, despite most pundits tipping the Labor Party to win, based on the campaign. One of the key reasons the Labor Party is believed to have lost the final vote, despite seemingly leading the race, was a late push from the Liberal Party which suggested that Labor would increase taxes – and specifically, that Labor would introduce a ‘death tax’ that would see people forced to pay up to 30% tax on any inheritance they may receive from deceased friends or relatives.

Labor Death Tax post

Which wasn’t true – the Labor Party had repeatedly denied that it was even considering such a measure, and re-stated, repeatedly, that this was not the case.

But in the final days of the campaign, the Liberal Coalition ramped up its rhetoric. And based on Google search activity, that had a major impact.

Death tax searches

As you can see here, the election was held on May 18th, and searches for ‘death tax’ and ‘inheritance tax’ in Australia significantly ramped up in that last week.

The Coalition clearly saw this as a key area of concern for voters, and worked to amplify such in the final lead-up to the vote. Given this, it could be argued that, with more time, the Labor Party may have been able to counter the concern more effectively. 

As such, stopping the amplification of such messaging in that last week could actually be critically important – so while it’s not a full ban, as some had hoped for, and Facebook still won’t fact check political ads, it may be a more important measure than many are anticipating.

Only time, of course, will tell.

Removing Election Misinformation

Facebook will also expand its efforts to remove misinformation about voting.

“We already committed to partnering with state election authorities to identify and remove false claims about polling conditions in the last 72 hours of the campaign, but given that this election will include large amounts of early voting, we’re extending that period to begin now and continue through the election until we have a clear result.”

The act of voting itself will be a key element of focus, with US President Donald Trump repeatedly criticizing the voting process, and the variations being made to accommodate voters amid COVID-19. 

Just this week, Trump suggested that voters test the integrity of the system by seeking to vote twice, which is illegal in every US state. 

With doubts like this being cast over the process, Facebook is looking to get ahead of any such activity, and take more action to remove voting misinformation from its platform.

Limiting Message Forwarding

Facebook has also announced that it will implement a new limit on message forwarding in Messenger in order to restrict the spread of viral misinformation via message.

As per Facebook:

“We’re introducing a forwarding limit on Messenger, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time. Limiting forwarding is an effective way to slow the spread of viral misinformation and harmful content that has the potential to cause real world harm.”

Facebook implemented the same in WhatsApp back in April, in order to stem the flow of COVID-19 misinformation campaigns, which, Facebook says, lead to a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent in the app.

With Facebook implementing more measures to restrict the flow of misinformation in its main app, many activists and campaigners have turned to messaging to continue their efforts, and this proactive step by Facebook could be a significant measure to restrict any such push.

Cracking Down on Voting Misrepresentation

Facebook is also expanding its enforcement efforts against voting misinformation in posts.

“We already remove explicit misrepresentations about how or when to vote that could cause someone to lose their opportunity to vote – for example, saying things like “you can send in your mail ballot up to 3 days after election day”, which is obviously not true. (In most states, mail-in ballots have to be *received* by election day, not just mailed, in order to be counted.) We’re now expanding this policy to include implicit misrepresentations about voting too, like “I hear anybody with a driver’s license gets a ballot this year”, because it might mislead you about what you need to do to get a ballot, even if that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate your vote by itself.”

The expanded crackdown will help to dispel falsehoods about the voting process.

In addition, Facebook is also implementing new rules against using threats related to COVID-19 to discourage voting.

“We’ll remove posts with claims that people will get COVID-19 if they take part in voting. We’ll attach a link to authoritative information about COVID-19 to posts that might use the virus to discourage voting, and we’re not going to allow this kind of content in ads.”

Already, claims about protest activity and COVID-19 have been used to discourage people from voting in some areas. 

Policing Premature Claims About the Election Outcome

Finally, another key area of concern, which Facebook has already flagged, is the possibility of civil unrest as a result of the final outcome of the vote. 

Last month, The New York Times reported that Facebook has been exploring measures it might take in case President Trump decides not to accept the results of the 2020 election.

Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the integrity of the voting process, has thus far avoided questions about whether he will accept the final result – and now, Facebook has announced a range of additional measures that it will take to counter any effort to claim victory, or question the result, in the wake of the poll.

First, Facebook says that it will partner with Reuters and the National Election Pool to provide authoritative information about election results.

“We’ll show this in the Voting Information Center so it’s easily accessible, and we’ll notify people proactively as results become available. Importantly, if any candidate or campaign tries to declare victory before the results are in, we’ll add a label to their post educating that official results are not yet in and directing people to the official results.”

Facebook will also add an “informational label” to any post which seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods – which, Facebook says, will include any posts by the President.

Facebook will also increase its monitoring and enforcement efforts for groups like QAnon, which some are concerned may seek to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the election. Facebook removed thousands of groups and Pages associated with QAnon specifically last month

These are some significant measures, and while Facebook still, as noted, won’t be fact checking political ads, the measures introduced here could go a long way in combatting efforts to manipulate voters during the campaign.

It’s difficult to know how effective the measures will be, and unfortunately, we won’t have any definitive insight till after the election, but within the parameters of Facebook’s approach to political content, these are important steps, which could have a major impact.

In respect to how effective they are, Facebook is also conducting a large scale analysis of its impact on the political process, which will involve it gaining permission from users to analyze their activity throughout the campaign period.

And this week, reports have emerged that as part of this effort, Facebook may actually pay some users not to use their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

That likely relates to a control group – if Facebook wants to measure the full impacts of its posts and updates on voting behavior, it needs to have a comparison. By having a group of users not use Facebook or Instagram, then getting insight into how they voted and engaged with political content without these platforms, it will help the researchers establish a better baseline of what impact Facebook actually has.

There’s a lot going on, and with Facebook set to come under intense scrutiny, it’s working to do all it can to protect users from manipulation.

Will it work? Should Facebook do more? We’ll soon find out, as the campaign is about to kick into overdrive.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Effective Ways To Personalize Your Customer Touch Points Even More In 2023

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Effective Ways To Personalize Your Customer Touch Points Even More In 2023

Will 2023 be the year of personalization? Consumers hope so. For the past two years, shoppers have been craving the personal touch: In 2021, McKinsey & Company noted that 71% of customers expected companies to deliver personalization. In 2022, a Salesforce survey found that 73% of people expected brands to understand their needs and expectations. So, this year is looking like one where personalization can no longer be seen as a “nice to have.”

The problem, of course, is how to get more personalized. Many companies have already started to dabble in this. They greet shoppers by name on landing pages. They rely on CRMs and other tools to use historical information to send shoppers customized recommendations. They offer personalized, real-time discounts to help buyers convert their abandoned shopping cart items to actual purchases.

These are all great ideas. The only problem is that they’ve become widespread. They don’t move the needle on the customer experience anymore. Instead, they’re standard, expected, and kind of forgettable. That doesn’t mean you can afford to stop doing them. It just means you must devise other ways to pepper personalization throughout your consumer interactions.

If you are scratching your head on how to outdo 2022’s personalization in 2023, try implementing the following strategies:

1. Go for full-blown engagement on social media.

One easy way to give the personal touch is through your social media business pages. Social media use just keeps growing. In 2022, there were about 266 million monthly active users (or MUAs) on Facebook, one billion on Instagram, and 755 million on TikTok. Not all these active users will fall into your target audiences, but plenty of them will.

Make engaging with your social followers one of this year’s goals. People spend a lot of time on social media. It’s where many of them “live,” so it only makes sense that it should be a place to drive personalization.

One quick way to ratchet up your company’s personal touch on social media is to personalize all your retargeted ads. Quizzes can also offer a chance for personalization. Simply set up an engaging quiz and allow people to share their results. It’s a fun way to build brand recognition and bond with consumers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going very personal and answering all comments. Depending on your team’s size and the number of comments you receive, this might be a viable option.

2. Leverage AI to go beyond basic demographics.

Most companies rely on customer demographic information to bolster personalization efforts. The only trouble with this tactic is that demographics can’t tell the whole story. It’s impossible to get a lot of context about individual users (such as their lifestyles, personal preferences, and motivators) just from knowing their age, gender, or location. Though demographic data is beneficial, it can cause some significant misses.

Michael Scharff, CEO and cofounder of Evolv AI, explains the workaround for this problem: “The most natural, and therefore productive, personalization efforts use demographics as a foundation and then layer in user likes, dislikes, behaviors, and values.”

You can leverage AI’s predictive and insightful capabilities to uncover real-time user insights. Scharff recommends this technique because it allows you to stay in sync with the fast-moving pace of consumer behavior changes. He adds that AI can be particularly beneficial with the coming limits to third-party cookie access because it can be a first-party data source, allowing you to maintain customer knowledge and connection.

To flesh out your organization’s strategy, look to other companies that have gone beyond demographics. Take Netflix, for example, which constantly tweaks its AI algorithm to help improve personalized content recommendations. Bottom line? Going deeper than surface information makes all the sense in the world if you want to show customers you know them well.

3. Keep your data spotless.

The better your data, the better your personalization efforts. Period. Unfortunately, you are probably sitting on a lot of unstructured or otherwise tricky-to-use (or impossible-to-use) data. One recent Great Expectations survey revealed that 77% of data practitioners have data quality problems, and 91% say that this is wreaking havoc on their companies’ performance.

You can’t personalize anything with corrupt or questionable data. So, do your best to find ways to clean your data promptly and routinely. For example, you might want to invest in a more centralized data system, particularly if the personalization data you rely on is scattered in various places. Having one repository of data truth makes it easier to know if the information on hand is ready to use.

Another way to tame your data is to automate as many data processes as possible. Reducing manual manipulation of data lessens the chance of human error. And you’ll feel more confident with all your personalization efforts if you can trust the reliability and health of your data.

4. Go for nontechnical personalization.

It’s the digital age, but that doesn’t mean every touchpoint has to be digitized. Consumers often react with delight and positivity when they receive personalization in decidedly nontech forms. (Yes, you can use tech to keep track of everything. Just don’t make it part of the actual personalized exchange!)

Consider writing handwritten thank-you notes to customers after they’ve called in for support or emailed your team, for instance. Or send an extra personalized gift to buyers who make a specific number of purchases. These interactions aren’t technical but can differentiate your customer experience from your competitors’ experiences.

A groundbreaking Deloitte snapshot taken right before the pandemic showed that people were hungry for connection. By folding nondigital experiences into your personalization with customers, you’re showing them that you see them first as valued humans. That’s compelling and appealing, making them more apt to give you their loyalty in return.

Putting a personal spin on all your consumer interactions takes a little time. It’s worth your energy, though. You’ll wind up with stronger brand-buyer connections, helping you edge ahead of your competitors even more.

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Planning for 2023: What Social Media Marketers Need to Win in 2023

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Planning for 2023: What Social Media Marketers Need to Win in 2023

January is, for many, a month of reflection, goal-setting, strategizing and planning for the year ahead. 

In line with this, we’ve kicked off the new year with a series of articles covering the latest stats, tips and strategies to help social media marketers build an effective game plan for 2023.

Below, you’ll find links to our 2023 social media planning series, which includes:

  • Content strategy guidelines to help you define your brand’s content mission and set SMART goals
  • Organic posting tips for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest 
  • Explainers on how to research key topics of interest in your niche, understand the competitive landscape, and help you find your audience and connect with them where they’re active
  • A holiday calendar and notes on the best days and times to post to each of the major platforms

 

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Meta says Trump to be allowed back on Facebook, Instagram

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Meta wants the UK to keep some EU e-commerce rules instead of scrapping them in its planned bonfire of Brussels legislation

Meta image: — © AFP INDRANIL MUKHERJEE

Glenn CHAPMAN

Social networking giant Meta announced Tuesday it would soon reinstate former president Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram with “new guardrails,” two years after he was banned over the 2021 US Capitol insurrection.

“We will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said in a statement, adding that the move would come with “new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

Going forward, the Republican leader — who has already declared himself a 2024 presidential candidate — could be suspended for up to two years for each violation of platform policies, Clegg said.

It was not clear when or if Trump will return to the platforms, and his representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the 76-year-old tycoon reacted in typically bullish fashion, crowing that Facebook had lost “billions of dollars in value” in his absence.

“Such a thing should never again happen to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving of retribution!” he said on his Truth Social platform.

Facebook banned Trump a day after the January 6, 2021 uprising, when a mob of his supporters seeking to halt the certification of his election defeat to Joe Biden stormed the US Capitol in Washington.

The former reality TV star had spent weeks falsely claiming that the presidential election was stolen from him and he was subsequently impeached for inciting the riot.

In a letter asking for the ban to be overturned, Trump’s lawyer Scott Gast said last week that Meta had “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.”

He asked for a meeting to discuss Trump’s “prompt reinstatement to the platform” of Facebook, where he had 34 million followers, arguing that his status as the leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2024 justified ending the ban.

American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony Romero said Meta was making “the right call” by allowing Trump back onto the social network.

“Like it or not, President Trump is one of the country’s leading political figures and the public has a strong interest in hearing his speech,” Romero said in a release.

“Indeed, some of Trump’s most offensive social media posts ended up being critical evidence in lawsuits filed against him and his administration.”

The ACLU has filed more than 400 legal actions against Trump, according to Romero.

– Extremism engine? –

Advocacy groups such as Media Matters for America, however, vehemently oppose allowing Trump to exploit Facebook’s social networking reach.

“Make no mistake — by allowing Donald Trump back on its platforms, Meta is refueling Trump’s misinformation and extremism engine,” said Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.

“This not only will have an impact on Instagram and Facebook users, but it also presents intensified threats to civil society and an existential threat to United States democracy as a whole.”

A US congressional committee recommended in December that Trump be prosecuted for his role in the US Capitol assault.

His Twitter account, which has 88 million followers, was also blocked after the riot, leaving him to communicate through Truth Social, where he has fewer than five million followers.

Trump’s shock victory in 2016 was credited in part to his leverage of social media and his enormous digital reach.

New Twitter owner Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s account last November, days after the brash billionaire announced a fresh White House run. He has yet to post.

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