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Facebook to 'restrict the circulation of content' if election chaos occurs: RPT

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous, Brian Sozzi, and Rick Newman discuss how Facebook is anticipating people using its platform around the 2020 Election Day.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Facebook is preparing for the worst around Election Day. The company's Head of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, told "The Financial Times" the social media platform will take extreme measures to quote, "restrict the circulation of content should things get chaotic." Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman is here to discuss this. Good to see you, Rick. So what is Facebook doing exactly? What is it planning for around Election Day if things do get quote unquote, "chaotic?"

RICK NEWMAN: Well, Nick Clegg did not spell that out, but we can imagine what he has in mind. I mean, the scenarios that people are worried about are, for example, we don't know who the winner is on Election Day, because there are lots of mail-in ballots that have not yet been counted. And we know that President Trump is already setting the stage to claim there's fraud in the election if it looks as if he is not ahead or not likely to win on Election Day, so it's easy to imagine Trump trying to get people riled up and protests emerging as we wait for election officials to count the ballots.

Now, Facebook, of course, is a tool that people use to rally people to different sites. We know the Russians did this. They actually got people to go to fake rallies in 2016 when it wasn't clear exactly what the Russians were doing there, and Facebook has also been used in some of these protests and counter-protests we've seen over the last several months with regard to Antifa and Black Lives Matter and all of that. So Facebook, I guess, is trying to anticipate every possible way people could use the platform if we don't have a clear election outcome in early November and forestall the use of Facebook for, you know, to make the election even worse.

BRIAN SOZZI: Rick, do you think Facebook is better prepared for this election than 2016? And can they even be prepared at all, just how big the platform has become and just the rise in technology since the last election?

RICK NEWMAN: Yeah, Facebook is absolutely better prepared than in 2016, because in 2016, it was totally unprepared. Facebook didn't know what the Russians were doing on the platform in 2016. And even about a month after the election, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, said it was preposterous to think that Facebook had played a role in the election or the election outcome, and we now know that's completely false. The Mueller Investigation made very clear what Russian activists were doing on Facebook in 2016, so now we know. That was obviously a huge embarrassment for Facebook, number one, that it happened, and number two, that it happened under their noses, and they didn't even know what was going on on their own platform.

So this time around at a minimum, Facebook is trying to make sure it doesn't get as embarrassed as it was after the 2016 election. I think the real question is whether the Russians and anybody else who might. You know, this could be the Chinese. We've seen the Iranians have an interest in this kind of interference if they're doing anything that Facebook and all the other platforms are not aware of. In other words, is Facebook fighting the last war while the Russians have moved on to new tactics that Facebook has not yet detected? And I just don't think we know.