Facebook seeks to defend political candidates from hacking threats

Facebook's latest effort to fight election meddling is designed to protect US political campaigns and their candidates from suffering an account takeover.

On Monday, the company unveiled the new pilot program to help stop hacking threats on legitimate accounts as opposed to merely combating fake accounts from spreading misinformation. "As we have seen in past elections, candidates and elected officials, as well as their staff, can be targeted by hackers and foreign adversaries across platforms, including Facebook," the company said in the blog post.

The tech giant didn't elaborate on the hacking threat, but the midterm elections are only about 50 days away. Many US political candidates use Facebook pages to promote themselves and reach out to prospective voters. Some of these pages, such as US Republican Senator Ted Cruz, have millions of followers, giving them a wide reach.

Facebook's new security program is designed for the candidates and any staff members associated with their political campaigns. Once the person enrolls, the company will start monitoring their accounts for potential hacking threats. "This program will help us quickly detect, and participants quickly report, any targeting that does happen," the company said in its blog post.

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"If we discover an attack against one campaign official, we can review and protect other accounts that are enrolled in our program and affiliated with that same campaign," Facebook added. "As we detect abuse, we will continue to share relevant information with law enforcement and other companies so we can maximize our effectiveness."

The company plans on taking what it learns from the pilot program to help it protect future elections, and perhaps the accounts of special users, such as government officials.

The pilot program is currently open for people associated with federal or statewide political campaigns. Staff members of political party committees can also enroll. Facebook has a page where eligible users can register here.

Once enrolled, Facebook will also help the user set up two-factor authentication on their account, a security feature that is actually open to all. It usually works by requiring the user to provide both the password and a special code generated over your smartphone to log into the Facebook account. This extra security step can prevent hackers from breaking in in the event they correctly guess or steal your password. You can turn on the two-factor feature in Facebook by going to account settings, and then clicking the "Security and Login" section.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.