Important resources to help you navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Wisconsin
Hub for reliable, timely news about COVID-19 pandemic

Social media companies battling misinformation ahead of 2020 election

DES MOINES, IA - FEBRUARY 02: A woman walks past a sign displayed on a building a Drake University that reads "Road To 2020 Starts Here" on February 2, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Tomorrow, Iowa voters will go to their local precincts to caucus for a one of several presidential candidates. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Social media companies are gearing up for the 2020 election cycle and hoping to battle misinformation with new rules for political advertising.

Sifting through what’s real and what isn’t on feeds full of political posts is a challenge, especially during an election year.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Neil Chilson, the former acting chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission, says social media sites have full control over what you see.

“As a private company – Facebook, Twitter, all of these platforms – they can choose how they deal with content, what content they allow on their platforms,” Chilson said.

Facebook set up new rules ahead of the 2020 campaign to battle misinformation. Under the rules, the social media giant started labeling political advertisers as “confirmed organizations.”

Cornell University Professor Drew Margolin says the plan still leaves voters vulnerable.

“When rules are in place, people sometimes are less vigilant,” he said.

Margolin suggests companies create two categories – verified and not verified – to help users evaluate an ad’s credibility. But overall, he does believe the social media platforms are getting better with more companies trying to protect against misinformation after Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“It is definitely safer because when you’ve been doing absolutely nothing to address what is a predictable problem, you improve when you do something,” Margolin said.

Both experts agree it’s up to the user to double-check what information they’re consuming to stay informed before heading to the polls.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.