Facebook says it is ready for violent unrest in the US election, and has plans to restrict the spread of inflammatory posts

  • Facebook is preparing in case violence erupts after the November US presidential election.
  • Nick Clegg, its head of global affairs, told The Financial Times the network has plans for scenarios like widespread civil unrest, or an unclear result if mail-in votes are counted slowly.
  • He declined to explain Facebook's specific plan, but said that the company may make strong moves to "restrict the circulation of content."
  • A source told the FT that Facebook is exploring how to respond to around 70 scenarios, and is working with military planners.
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Facebook said Tuesday that it has a plan in case there is violent unrest in the wake of the US election, and that it would restrict content on its platform in such a scenario.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's head of global affairs, told The Financial Times in an interview that the company has plans in place in case of widespread chaos.

Clegg did not elaborate on exactly what measures Facebook is considering.

But he said that the company would make aggressive moves to "restrict the circulation of content" that it thought may further inflame the situation.

He said big decisions will fall to executives like him and COO Sheryl Sandberg, and that Zuckerberg will be able to overrule decisions.

Clegg's interview echoed concerns raised in an interview CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave to Axios earlier this month, discussing the potential for "civil unrest" in the wake of the vote.

Clegg said the company was ready for a range of situations.

Another scenario is a period of limbo after November 3, where in-person votes, counted quickly, signal one result which later changes when mail-in ballots are taken into account.

President Donald Trump too has been preparing for this scenario, painting mail-in voting — which experts consider to be safe — as an unreliable form of voting that Democrats could use to rig the election.

Facebook did not elaborate on its plans to the FT, claiming that knowledge of its plans could allow some people to work out how to overcome its restrictions.

The company is facing intense scrutiny over how it deals with election-related misinformation, and how it expects to manage this, and any election-related backlash, in November.

Clegg said Facebook has "acted aggressively in other parts of the world where we think that there is real civic instability" and said the company has previously elsewhere used "pretty exceptional measures to significantly restrict the circulation of content on our platform."

He said that Facebook "obviously" can do that again.

A source familiar with Facebook's workings told the FT that Facebook has used military scenario planners to decide how it should respond to around 70 different outcomes in the US.

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