Facebook Organizes its First Ever APAC Press Day

Last week, Facebook invited journalists from over a dozen countries to its Marina Bay offices in Singapore for the first-ever APAC Press Day. They met with executives from Business, Marketing, Commerce and other operational areas to find out how Facebook is bringing the world closer together and how it plans to extend that mission into 2020.

Maintaining the Integrity of Elections

In the wake of reports about foreign powers using social media to interfere in presidential elections in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK among others, Facebook has made significant investments to protect the integrity of elections.

According to Dan Neary, VP, APAC Global Business Group, the company’s approach involves everything from removing fake accounts, limiting the spread of misinformation to bringing transparency to political advertisement. Interestingly, Facebook has not followed suit with Google and Twitter in removing political advertising – instead, opting to bring transparency to the process instead.

Some Staggering Numbers on Security

At the time of Facebook’s IPO, the company’s revenue was around $3.7 billion. Today, the company spends more than that on security alone. A significant part of that budget has been spent on detecting and automating the removal of fake accounts as well as terrorist content from the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

In 2019 so far, Facebook has removed over 2.2 billion fake accounts with 99.8% being removed automatically and within minutes of being created. 26 million pieces of terrorist content have been found and removed this year with 99% deleted from the platform before they were even reported.

How is Facebook Dealing with Misinformation?

When it comes to fake news, Facebook has chosen a strategy of attenuation.

The company has a third-party fact-checking process with 55 partners across 60 countries in over 40 languages.

Technology and human resources work in tandem to identify and limit the distribution of fake news on Facebook. On average, views on false news drop by 60% once they are flagged. When fact-checkers write articles about the veracity of a story, those articles are shown directly below the related story.

APAC Programs to Empower Entrepreneurs and Businesses

SheMeansBusiness, Made by Loved by and Boost with FB are some of the programs Facebook has launched in the APAC region over the last few years.

To date, the company has trained over 32,000 small businesses with half of them involving women entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, Facebook also launched We Think Digital, which aims to train people to develop critical reasoning skills and help them share content online in a more responsible manner. By next year, the multilingual program hopes to train more than 2 million people in 8 countries across the Asia Pacific.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups have been transformative for the newly coming online population and digital natives in Pakistan alike. From Buy and Sell groups to those dedicated around common interests like startups and the food scene in major cities, these easy to use groups have become the primary medium of sharing and communication for like-minded people.

And it’s not only Pakistan. Over 650 million people in the APAC region are active members of 27 million Facebook Groups.

According to Christine Chia, who is the Director of Commerce Partnerships at Facebook, the process of improving Groups is one that’s led very much by the users themselves. She said,

We saw people sort of hacking Facebook to make it work for them. For example, in buy and sell groups, people would create templates for things they’d need to sell and how to notify when they were no longer available. These user requirements are driving how we enable these people and improve Groups. We want to keep making Groups useful for people and that’s led to developing special post formats for selling things, highlighting active users and so much more.

Unfortunately, for Facebook Shopping, Facebook Pay and other services like Dating, officials couldn’t provide a concrete timeline as to when we might expect them in Pakistan.