Nigeria: How Facebook Is Mitigating Fake News in Africa

(file photo).
27 February 2019

As elections are currently holding in Nigeria and most other African countries, many unsubstantiated news items are making the rounds, across social media and other platforms.

However, social media giant, Facebook, said it is committed to reducing spread in a bid to protect election integrity and support civic engagement across the continent.

The platform said in recent times, it dedicated resources towards reducing fake news in Africa through different engagements. Those include fighting false news, boosting digital literacy to help people spot false news, promoting civic engagement, making political ads more transparent, proactive removal of impersonation accounts among others.

Facebook's Public Policy Manager, Africa Elections, Akua Gyekye, said: "We want to stop the spread of false news on our platforms. That's why we've teamed up with local third-party fact-checkers across South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal, including Africa Check, AFP (Agence France-Presse), Pesa Check (a local Kenyan fact-checking organisation) and Dubawa (a local Nigerian fact-checking organisation).

"These independent groups helped us assess the accuracy of news shared on Facebook, and when they determine content is false, we reduce its distribution in News Feed so fewer people see it. We also show related articles from fact-checkers for more contexts and notify users if a story they have shared is rated false."

She added that "in Nigeria, WhatsApp has worked with Africa Check and CrossCheck Nigeria to let users send questions about potential rumours they have received through the platform. These fact-checking expansions are part of a broader strategy to fight fake news that includes extensive work to remove fake accounts, cut off incentives to the financially-motivated actors that spread disinformation, promote news literacy, and give more context so people can decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share," Gyekye, said.

Facebook said it has also intensified efforts to help people spot false news on their own and to flag it, rolling out educational tips on national and regional radio and in print media across Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

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