Facebook's Election Plans Include False Claim of Victory

Scenarios include president claiming election interference means he won a second term
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2020 5:30 PM CDT
Facebook Plans for Trump Casting Doubt on Vote Count
President Trump arrives at a Pennsylvania event Thursday.   (Christopher Dolan / The Times-Tribune via AP)

Facebook is working on contingency plans to deal with a potential threat to American democracy from one of its most famous symbols: the White House. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and top aides are meeting daily to decide what to do if President Trump loses the November election and then tries—using Facebook—to invalidate the results, the New York Times reports. Trump and his aides have declined to offer assurances that he'll accept the election results. Possibilities under consideration at Facebook include Trump announcing that someone interfered with the election or that the Postal Service lost mail-in ballots, then claiming that he'd been elected to a second term. Preparation for such scenarios means that social media giants would have to "treat the president as a bad actor," said an internet expert at Stanford University. "We don’t have experience with that in the United States," he said.

The company did set up a "war room" before the 2018 election to deal with any election threats, including foreign interference. One change under consideration this time is a "kill switch" to cut off political ads after the election to keep them from being used to spread false information. YouTube and Twitter also are debating how to handle post-election chaos. Facebook said last week that it's working with election officials on solutions, per Engadget, and warned that a lengthy vote count could "be exploited in order to sow distrust in the election outcome." Zuckerberg has laid the groundwork for a tense wait after the voting, telling the Times that "there’s a high likelihood that it takes days or weeks to count this—and there’s nothing wrong or illegitimate about that." (Trump already has said the election might have to be held a second time.)

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