By Juliet Umeh
As African countries prepare to hold elections soon, Social Media Platform, Facebook, has revealed some of the steps it is taking to ensure fairness and integrity of elections as part of its contributions to the region.
According to the platform’s Public Policy Manager, Elections in Africa, Akua Gyekye, the measures provide an overview of their ongoing work to reduce disinformation and eliminate voter suppression. He said the measures are preventing electoral interference, supporting civic engagement and increasing transparency in political advertising.
The steps include:
Fight misinformation and fake news
Gyekye said: “We are working hard to combat the spread of misinformation on our services because we know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram.
“Our updated policies allow us to remove misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm or violence, and also remove misinformation that could prevent people from voting, such as fake news about voting dates, place, time, and methods. .
“Over the past year, we have expanded our work with independent fact-checking organizations in Africa to review and rate the accuracy of content shared on Facebook and Instagram,” explained Gyekye.
“The program now covers 18 sub-Saharan African countries and also supports local languages such as Swahili, Wolof, Igbo, Yoruba, Zulu, and Setswana,” Gyekye explained.
Boost digital literacy
Facebook said it wants to make sure people can spot fake news and knowledge to alert them to it.
Gyekye said: “This is why we continue to run campaigns focused on providing educational advice on how to spot fake news, such as’ three questions to help weed out fake news.”
“These campaigns are supported in local languages and are broadcast on both local radio and Facebook. We also continue to run educational ads focused on hate speech, how it is defined, and the actions users can take, “he said.
Make political ads more transparent
Facebook said: “We believe that political discussion and debate should be transparent to all voters, which is why in recent years we have introduced tools that provide more information about political ads on Facebook and Instagram.
“Since we launched our political ad transparency tool in 2019, we have expanded it to cover several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We encourage anyone who wants to post election or political announcements to go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in the country they are targeting, and in a growing number of sub-Saharan African countries we have done this process is mandatory “.
Promotion of civic engagement
Gyekye also explained that Facebook is helping to build informed and civically engaged communities around the elections.
He said: “For example, in countries like Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea we have engaged in discussions with civic stakeholders, such as election commissions and civil society organizations, to focus on how Facebook can be a positive tool for civic engagement. and the steps you can take to stay safe while using our platforms.
“We have also conducted virtual training on the application of advertisements and civic engagement with political parties in these same countries. We continue to roll out a number of products and features on Facebook and Instagram, including Election Day reminders at the top of the Facebook news feed to encourage people to vote and security megaphones to remind the administrator of the page of political groups to further protect their accounts with Two-Factor Authentication, ”he said.
Keeping people safe
Gyekye said: “Since 2016, we have tripled the size of teams working on safety and security to more than 35,000 people. We’ve hired more systems engineers, security experts, and content reviewers, including native speakers of Swahili, Amharic, Zulu, Somali, Oromo, and Hausa, to name a few examples.
“We have also pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to find and remove harmful content more quickly. Between April and June of this year, we removed more than 15 million pieces of graphic and violent content globally, detecting more than 99 percent proactively before anyone had to report it, ”he said.
Partnerships with NGOs
Facebook said it has continued to work on the ground with NGOs and civil society groups in many African countries.