- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Facebook has prepared for a range of scenarios ahead of the general election, including the eruption of violence or President Trump prematurely claiming victory, a top executive for the company said Tuesday.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of global affairs, discussed the preparations in separate interviews conducted by the Financial Times and USA Today published six weeks before voting ends on Election Day, Nov. 3.

“There are some break-glass options available to us if there really is an extremely chaotic and, worse still, violent set of circumstances,” Mr. Clegg told the Financial Times.

Those “break-glass options,” he told USA Today, would “effectively throw a blanket” over content that might otherwise freely circulate on Facebook’s namesake social network or its sister-service Instagram.

Facebook might stop posts from spreading to “play our role as responsible as we can to prevent that content, wittingly or otherwise, from aiding and abetting those who want to continue with the violence and civil strife that we’re seeing on the ground,” said Mr. Clegg, USA Today reported.

“We very much hope we won’t have to. And it would have to be a highly worrisome and abnormal situation to do so,” added Mr. Clegg, who previously served as U.K. deputy prime minister before joining Facebook.

In addition to potentially stopping certain social media posts from spreading, Mr. Clegg said Facebook is ready to intervene should Mr. Trump prematurely claim victory over Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden.

“We will inform users with a very visible label on top of Donald Trump’s post —if what he’s trying to do is claim premature victory — saying that the election results are not yet finalized,” he told USA Today.

Facebook acted similarly on more than one occasion recently by adding so-called “informational labels” to Mr. Trump’s posts in which he recommended voters cast ballots by mail and then again in person.

“We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud,” Facebook said when it announced the policy Sept. 3.

More recently, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint-alert Tuesday warning that bad actors may seek to continue attacking the legitimacy of the election after the last votes are cast.

“Foreign actors and cybercriminals could exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results by disseminating disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy,” the alert said.

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