Since the wake of the pandemic, Africa has experienced many events, from the regime change in Mali to the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, and now the forthcoming elections hosted by other countries. It will serve as topics for discussion houses and social media platforms. Before the advent of social media, news and additional information were created. Intelligence must come from a legitimate source before broadcasting. Over time, the internet and social media have made report spread faster; genuine or fake. By creating a post, another user could easily share or copy and paste for Facebook and retweet for Twitter.
It was brought to Facebook’s notice about the viral flow of false news trending within Africa by Facebook’s Public Policy Manager for Africa and MENA elections, Akua Gyekye. The social media giant has the best knowledge of how its users consistently surf its platform to trend contents that interest the public. Some others go to the extreme to publish false information to defame a character or promote propaganda.
Akua Gyekye has drafted viable means to sustain its privacy, safety, and security policies to tackle users promoting false information to contradict fairness and voter suppression in impending elections in Africa. Meanwhile, Facebook has updated its guidelines to impact the internet to ensure integrity, democratic engagement with transparent political agendas, prevent balloting interference, and cut down the viral flow of false information.
FACEBOOK POLICY GUIDELINES
Fight Against Misinformation And False News: the updated version of the Facebook policy is supported with the fact-checker software to detects the dates, location, time, and wrong information; it also automatically deletes inaccurate information’s about elections before it goes viral. The establishment of the policy aims at managing its millions of users across Africa, tackling the originator of false news in most scenarios, which might prevent people from participating in elections.
“Over the past year, we have expanded our work with independent fact-checking organizations across Africa to review and rate the accuracy of content shared on Facebook and Instagram. The program now covers 18 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and supports local languages such as Swahili, Wolof, Igbo, Yoruba, Zulu, and Setswana.”
Encouraging Digital Education: this educates Facebook users to identify false news and report such content not to extend virally. The platform also has a language feature that includes African languages. So, these sections encourage its users to embrace knowledge to avoid posting inappropriate speech.
Gyekye said: “These campaigns are supported in local languages and run across both local radios and on Facebook. We are also continuing to run education ads focused on hate speech, how it’s defined, and actions users can take.”
Creating Political Ads Biased-Free: In 2019, Facebook launched a transparency tool to protect voters from foul-play; this platform allows users to provide their identity to determine validation. The media also serves as open ground, a transparent means for discussions, debates, and campaigns to reveal candidates’ evident intention during the election event.
Facebook said: “We encourage anybody who wants to run ads about elections or politics to go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in the country. We have made this process mandatory.”
Endorsing Civic Responsibility: Gyekye said that Facebook awareness aims to educate electoral commissions on protecting its user data while using the platform. Facebook also assures that the platform is end-to-end encrypted, whereas encouraging its users to look out for virtual ads that teach about civic enforcement.
She explained: “Election Day reminders at the top of Facebook’s News Feed to encourage people to vote, and Security Megaphones to remind page admin of political groups to secure their accounts further using Two-Factor Authentication.”
Promote Safety and Security: The data policy aims to avoid the leaking of sensitive information likely to disrupt a peaceful voting event. Over time, the MENA election has accomplished standard security. Facebook employs the use of Artificial intelligence tools to prevent harmful content from going viral.
Gyekye said: “Between April and June 2020, we removed over 15 million pieces of graphic and violent content globally, detecting over 99 percent proactively before anyone had to report it.”
Partnerships with NGOs: the tech giant announced that they would extend getting help from NGOs and African countries advocating for transparency in electoral practices, to prevent voter suppression, preventing balloting interference, and to stop the viral flow of false news.