Meta, the parent company for WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, on Wednesday announced its plans to combat misinformation and hate speech ahead of 2023 general elections.

Adaora Ikenze, Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, made this known during a media roundtable event in Lagos organised to share the company’s election integrity efforts.

She said that Meta would be taking aggressive steps to fight the spread of misinformation on its services in Nigeria.

”We know it is important for people to see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram,” she said.

Ikenze said that Meta would be removing misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm, adding that it would be working with its fact-checking partners AFP, Africa Check and Dubawa.

She said the fact- checking would review and rate potentially false content on the platforms, label it, and place it lower in the feed, so that fewer people could see it.

“To further educate Nigerians on how to spot false news and the actions to take, we are partnering with local radio stations to create ‘#NoFalseNews’ radio dramas in English and Pidgin.

“Meta would also be 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.

“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,” she said.

Ikenze said that some other steps being taken to prepare for the Nigerian elections included addressing virality.

She said that WhatsApp bulk or automated messaging was a violation of their terms of service, noting that if they found instances of people misusing the service, such accounts would be removed.

Ikenze said another step was outlining their community standards which publicly explains what is and is not allowed on the platforms to prioritise integrity during and after elections

She said there was also a dedicated cross functional team spread across the world as well as locally for the Nigerian elections.

Ikenze noted that the team included individuals with global expertise in misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation

She said, “These teams are working hard to prevent any abuse of our services before, during and after Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.”

Ikenze said that keeping people safe was also one of Meta’s priority, noting that since 2016 it had quadrupled the size of the global teams working on safety and security to about 40,000 people and invested more than 16 billion dollars on teams and technology in this area.

She said that another step was making political ads more transparent in Nigeria, adding that anybody who wanted to run political ads in Nigeria must go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria.

“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 have made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation.

“We intend to remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections.

“Meta will continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we are preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats,” Ikenze said. (NAN)

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