Meta, the parent company of Facebook today said that it is partnering with the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC), civil society groups and local radio stations to stop spread of fake news and protect the integrity of the Nigerian 2023 general elections.
The world’s largest social media company, said it is combating the spread of misinformation, make political advertising more transparent, and has a dedicated cross functional team spread across the world as well as locally focused on the Nigerian elections and taking aggressive steps to fight the spread of misinformation on our services in Nigeria.
Meta has reached out INEC and to non-government organisations (NGOs) to ensure the integrity of the elections. To this end, its Facebook page on the 2023 elections on its platform will have a blue tick which confirms the authentic of the results posted on the INEC official website.
Other steps it is taking include, quadrupling the size of its global teams working on safety and security to about 40,000 people, and have invested more than $16 billion in teams and technology. This also includes over 15,000 content reviewers in every major timezone. Collectively, these reviewers are able to review content in more than 70 languages- including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.
It is also making political ads more transparent in Nigeria, promoting civic engagement and addressing virality. This work will continue in the lead up to, during, and after voting and builds on Meta’s experience and learnings from supporting elections across Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.
Meta’s approach has also been informed by conversations with human rights groups, NGOs, local civil society organisations, regional experts and local election authorities – to help ensure the safety of people using Meta’s family of apps, customise election strategies for Nigeria, maintain the integrity of its platforms and keep users safe.
To ensure people see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram, it is removing misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm and working with its fact-checking partners in Nigeria – AFP, Africa Check and Dubawa – to review and rate potentially false content on our platforms, label it, and place it lower in our feed, so fewer people see it.
To further educate Nigerians on how to spot false news and the actions to take, we’re partnering with local radio stations to create ‘#NoFalseNews’ radio dramas in English and Pidgin, executing a WhatsApp awareness campaign #YouSaid in Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Pidgin to educate users to verify information before sharing and running online ads on Facebook and radio in Yoruba, Pidgin, Hausa and Igbo to educate people on how to spot false information.
Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze, speaking at press conference at its Nigerian office in Lagos, said, said, “We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections.
“Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections. We continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we’re preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats.”
Meta said on its dedicated team, it has a number of people from Nigeria and people who have spent significant amounts of time in the country, as we recognise that local understanding is critical. The team also includes individuals with global expertise in misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation.
“These teams are working hard to prevent any abuse of our services before, during and after Nigeria’s 2023 general elections. Locally, we also have staff who reside in Nigeria and work in the public policy, & public policy programmes and communications.
According to the company, it has outlined its Community Standards that publicly explain what is and isn’t allowed on its platforms to prioritise integrity on its platforms during and after elections. It further stated that to address virality, WhatsApp bulk or automated messaging is a violation of its terms of service.
“If we find instances of people misusing the service, we remove those accounts. We continue to constrain forwarding and earlier in 2022 we announced that any message that has been forwarded once, will now only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which was the previous limit.
“When we introduced the same feature for highly forwarded messages, it reduced the number of these messages sent on WhatsApp by over 70 per cent. We also label ‘forwarded’ and ‘highly forwarded’ messages to highlight when something has been shared multiple times. We’ve introduced forward limits to Messenger too, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time,” the company said.
On political adverts, anybody who wants to run political ads in Nigeria must go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria. These ads are labelled with a disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them and stored them in our public Ads Library for seven years, so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent.
“We also offer controls so that people in Nigeria can choose not to see any of these political ads which run with a disclaimer. On civic engagement, Meta said its dedicated teams have engaged in training and conversations with civil society organisations, academia, political parties and government to inform them of our election integrity efforts.