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Improving Civic Discourse on Facebook, Facebook's Civic Engagement Team

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This was presented by Alisa Nguyen, Annie Franco and Samidh Chakrabarti from Facebook at the Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC 2018) in Lisbon on 18th April 2018. You can find out more information about the conference here: http://tictec.mysociety.org/2018

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Improving Civic Discourse on Facebook, Facebook's Civic Engagement Team

  1. 1. Improving Civic Conversations on Facebook Samidh Chakrabarti Alisa Nguyen Annie Franco TICTeC April 2018
  2. 2. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Q&A
  3. 3. Civic engagement is one of five major pillars of how FB seeks to realize its mission https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/building-gobal-community/10154544292806634/ Giving people a voice is a principle our community has been committed to since we began. As we look ahead to building the social infrastructure for a global community, we will work on building new tools that encourage thoughtful civic engagement. Only through dramatically greater engagement can we ensure [that] political processes reflect our values. -- Mark Zuckerberg, February 2017
  4. 4. FB wasn’t originally designed for global civic discourse…
  5. 5. Yet unprecedented numbers of people now channel their civic energy through this new medium
  6. 6. Social media’s perceived civic role has shifted over time 2011 2017
  7. 7. Our Principles: From TICTeC April 2016…
  8. 8. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Q&A
  9. 9. We ask people through surveys and focus groups what kind of conversation they find to be the most valuable Rapid Feedback Surveys ▪ Triggeredbyclickonpager
 (someoneactivelyreadingcomments) ▪ Translatedintotop14languages. ▪ Onequestionsurvey=>highresponserate! Concept Questio
  10. 10. What kind of civic discourse do people want on Facebook? Safe Authentic Meaningful Effective Civility (e.g., Respectfulness) Real People Community Acknowledgement (i.e., Feeling Heard) Offensiveness (e.g., Hate Speech) Misinformation Divisiveness Irrelevance (i.e., Off Topic) MORE… LESS…
  11. 11. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Q&A
  12. 12. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Safety: Kenya 2017 Election • Q&A
  13. 13. How can we keep online speech from inciting real violence?
  14. 14. Historically FB has relied on the community to report posts
  15. 15. We started seeing a 4x increase in reports of harmful content
  16. 16. Advances in ML allowed us to shift to proactive reporting 1. Train ML classifiers for Kenya-specific slurs 2. Use AI to proactively flag suspect content 3. Review manually by market-specific teams Proactive method was 60% more accurate
  17. 17. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Authenticity: Ad Transparency • Q&A
  18. 18. How to make sure people involved in civic conversations really are who they say they are? • US 2016 election showed danger of inauthentic civic content • We’re constantly improving our ability to catch fake accounts • Now stopping 1M every day at the point of registration • But how to prevent inauthentic accounts run by real people? Credit: Patch
  19. 19. Transparency: You’ll soon be able to go to any FB Page and view all the ads they are currently running to anyone
  20. 20. Verification: All political advertisers will also be required to verify their identity and their location • Political ads from unverified advertisers will be blocked • Includes all kinds of political ads (i.e., electoral + social/issue ads) • Identity verification will be similar to opening a bank acct • Government Photo ID • Social Security Number • Location will be verified by sending a code over postal mail Note: Preliminary design. Continuing to iterate prior to launch.
  21. 21. Disclaimers: Political ads will be required to show people who paid for them Note: Preliminary design. Continuing to iterate prior to launch.
  22. 22. Archive: Political ads will be in a searchable archive for 4 yrs • Political Ad Archive will show… • Full ad creative • Amount spent • Demographic info about ad’s audience (age, gender, geo) • Publicly Searchable • Useful for watchdog groups to investigate and flag ads Note: Preliminary design. Continuing to iterate prior to launch.
  23. 23. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Meaningfulness: Measuring Polarization • Q&A
  24. 24. How can we ensure products don’t amplify polarization? • “Bringing the world closer together” is FB’s mission • Responsibility to make sure product changes don’t exacerbate polarization • To study this, we need to be able to measure it first! Credit: Brown University
  25. 25. Focus on Affective polarization, or ‘social distance’ ↑↑ Feelings of Warmth ↑↓ Affective Polarization (the gap) Out-group (people who disagree with you) In-group (people who share your beliefs)
  26. 26. From TICTeC 2017: Our early attempt to measure polarization via sentiment-based surveys
  27. 27. We need a better way of measuring affective polarization What is the ideal metric? • Real-time: Based on on-platform behaviors • Privacy-conscious: Doesn’t rely on explicit political beliefs • Valid: Correlates w/ people’s self-reported polarization • Sensitive: Correlates with real-world trends
  28. 28. Preferential Liking is a FB analogue for affective polarization People Friends who engage with similar news (↑↑) p↑↑(like) p↑↓ (like) Friends who engage with dissimilar news (↑↓) • Key idea: measure behavioral positivity gap • We construct an ideology-agnostic measure of similarity based on news engagement patterns • Preferential Liking: “How much more likely are people to ‘like’ content from friends who engage with similar news vs dissimilar news?”
  29. 29. Preferential Liking better correlates with survey measures Likes of Content from Similar Friends Likes of Content from Dissimilar Friends Preferential Likes (Delta of Above) * ‘Similar’ is defined as friends who engage with similar news sources
  30. 30. Preferential Liking is sensitive to polarizing real-world events Preferential Likes around Parkland Shooting
  31. 31. This is a first step to civic health metrics for tech products Missing today from people’s product dashboards: Civic health metrics! Google Analytics Illustrative Example
  32. 32. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Effectiveness: Constituent Badges • Q&A
  33. 33. How can digital interactions w/ politicians be more effective? Contacts Responses
  34. 34. From TICTeC 2016: Politicians say they don’t respond to people on FB because they don’t believe they are constituents
  35. 35. Constituent Badges let people show government officials they live in their districts when interacting with their posts
  36. 36. By randomizing our rollout in two phases, we tried to evaluate this feature’s impact on politician responses Real World Outcome Expected Impact Actual Impact Replies from politicians to constituent comments (i.e., lift in reply rate amongst badge-eligible constituents) Increase
  37. 37. Badges had no measurable effect on politician reply rate Wave 1 (badge-eligible) Wave 2 (not yet badge-eligible) Comments Likes
  38. 38. Politicians still say they find badges to be valuable and it may be effecting their legislative priorities “Loving these constituent badges. I use them every week with our Facebook Live Town Halls…. I moderate the questions beforehand, and it’s been tremendously helpful to be able to quickly determine which questions are from constituents. It makes my job of finding questions much much easier, and it helps the Senator be more able to directly address his constituents during these Live events. Loving it.” ~ A US Senator’s Office
  39. 39. Interestingly, among constituents, there is real change once people opt-in to the badge! More sustained engagement… Pre-Badge Post-Badge Per Day Rate Repeat Comment Rate
  40. 40. Constituents start being less deferential towards their reps
  41. 41. And also write more constructive & substantive comments
  42. 42. Badges shift mix of conversation towards people who are traditionally under-represented in online civic discourse
  43. 43. While not increasing on-FB politician responsiveness, Constituent Badges are empowering constituents Real World Outcome Expected Impact Actual Impact Replies from politicians to constituent comments (i.e., lift in reply rate amongst badge-eligible constituents) Increase Neutral Repeated engagement by constituents - Increase Substance of comments by constituents - Increase Representation of women in comments - Increase Sense of “Permission to Speak”!
  44. 44. Constituent Badges are proving popular and are improving the way people and their representatives interact on FB So far… ~ 7M badged comments created ~ 334M badged comments viewed ~ 23% opt-in rate (last 30d) Stay tuned for mobile rollout!
  45. 45. Overview • Why We Work On Civic Discourse • What Defines Healthy Conversation • Four Case Studies for Improving Civic Conversations • Q&A
  46. 46. • This has been a tough year not just for FB, but for all of us • The optimistic vision we’ve all had for civic tech feels at risk • But there’s reason to be hopeful– evidence that tech can improve outcomes! Conclusion: This is a challenging time, but be hopeful
  47. 47. Thank You! Questions? Alisa Nguyen alisanguyen@fb.com Samidh Chakrabarti @samidh Annie Franco afranco@fb.com

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