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Facebook's deceit

The INE announced an agreement with Facebook that ended up being hollow; the Institute wanted to fight fake news jointly with the transnational corporation but the social network is bound to nothing
Facebook – Image: Dado Ruvic/REUTERS
14/02/2018
08:55
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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On February 5, Facebook Mexico and the National Electoral Institute (INE) announced they had signed an agreement to “encourage citizen participation and turnout at the 2018 General Election.” Among the agreements, the most relevant was the alleged commitment of the social network to fight the so-called fake news roaming the web.

Yet this turned out to be a fake news itself. The statement read: “the INE shall, likewise, distribute material developed by Facebook, jointly with social organizations, to assist citizens in identifying low-quality content on the web.” However, the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the INE and Facebook doesn't mention how to fight “low-quality information.”

Yesterday, Lorenzo Córdova, president of the INE, spoke in defense of the agreement, claiming fake news will be fought by the dissemination of information. He refused to give a straight answer, though, when asked directly about the core issue of the debate: that legally, Facebook is bound to nothing, not even to the most basic which would be promoting or boosting the INE's statements and announcements on their platform.

This is evidence of the innocence of the Institute in trusting a transnational company – criticized before for enabling the dissemination of fake news – will do in Mexico what it hasn't done before.

Córdova said yesterday that they are in an ongoing negotiation with Facebook, that the memorandum disclosed yesterday wasn't the end of the agreement. Why, then, did the Institute brag about an agreement that bound the social network to nothing? As a proof of this we have Córdova's statement of February 6: “Yesterday we signed, for the first time ever anywhere in the world, a collaboration agreement with Facebook, the world's most important social network.” And now he's trying to downplay the memorandum.

Pursuant to the document in question: “Facebook shall have the intention (yet not the obligation) of making available some of their citizen participation products in their platform to promote turnout...”

It seems the INE was anxious to boast about an agreement that was, in its core, hollow.

Like columnists Javier Tejado and Ana Francisca Vega said in this newspaper, it all seems to point out that Facebook deceived the INE. It sold mirrors to the Institute and the Institute not only bought it, but flaunted it as if it were a tremendous accomplishment.

The social network that has done little against fake news has made of the INE their shield bearer and the Institute hasn't noticed.

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