Facebook interested in Estonian elections ({{commentsTotal}})

Facebook has shown an interest in Estonian elections.
Facebook has shown an interest in Estonian elections. Source: Stock Catalog/Creative Commons

International social media and advertising company Facebook has shown interest in Estonian politics and elections. Last December, representatives of the company met with every parliamentary political party in Estonia to discuss the company's role and opportunities in reducing the dissemination of fake news.

"They met with us as well; I was present at that meeting myself," said Centre Party spokesperson Andre Hanimägi. "The purpose of the meeting was actually very simple. Facebook has said that they want to actively fight against fake accounts, and fight against the spread of fake information that may actually influence votes in various countries."

According to the Centre spokesperson, as the Riigikogu elections are coming up in Estonia, Facebook was interested in meeting with Estonian political parties and discussing what the company's goals and opportunities were in connection with preventing the spread of misinformation.

"We were asked how the party would rate Facebook's work," Mr Hanimägi continued, "How the reporting of accounts works and whether everything is okay. A sort of general exchanging of ideas on those topics in particular. Their goal was that, in cooperation with Estonian political parties and people, Facebook would be as honest and clear of misinformation as possible."

Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) parliamentary group adviser Urmas Espenberg said that the party's meeting with Facebook representatives was a friendly and constructive one. In addition to Estonia, Facebook representatives also met with Latvian and Lithuanian politicians, he noted.

According to Mr Espenberg, the social media network offered protection from cyber-attacks, and as a result of these meetings, the official Facebook pages of all parliamentary parties in Estonia received blue verification badges.

According to Reform Party spokesperson Kajar Kase, the Facebook representatives described how they would begin doing things during the elections.

"Their primary point was to provide their own contact information," Mr Kase recalled. "Describe how things work for them in principle. They said that they would cooperate with the [Estonian Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK)]. Their idea was that if we ourselves notice something here that doesn't go along with Facebook's things, then we can notify them of it." He added that the Reform Party had already notified Facebook of one or two things.

Facebook previously in touch with ERJK

Facebook has previously been in touch with the ERJK already. Last December, the social network proposed to the committee to cooperate on political advertisements. The ERJK has since officially responded to Facebook, seeking the power to request information from the company regarding who and in what volumes has paid for advertising on the site.

The ERJK has also asked Facebook what information the company needs in order to share the data of those purchasing political ads with the committee as well as what are the next steps the two sides could take in order to continue their cooperation.

The ERJK has also asked Facebook what information the company needs in order to share the data of those purchasing political ads with the committee as well as what are the next steps the two sides could take in order to continue their cooperation.

ERJK deputy chairman Kaarel Tarand said that the committee's cooperation with Facebook consists of a voluntary exchange of information regarding specific incidents. "If we agree that the exchange of information will take place if we want," he continued, adding that Facebook is prepared to cooperate. It could happen that the committee could end up in proceedings where this cooperation is necessary, but it could also happen that this cooperation isn't necessary after all, he said.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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