Meta, the parent company of Facebook has disclosed the company’s plan to support Nigeria’s upcoming general election.
The social media giants said it is investing in people and technology to ensure a safe and secured election, reducing the spread of misinformation and hedging the spread of harmful contents across its platforms.
Meta stated that it has also activated their Elections Operations Centre to identify potential threats in real time and speed up responses, adding that the practice will remain effective both during and after the election.
Here are some of the company’s focus areas and plans to achieve them.
Removing Harmful Content to Keep People Safe
The social media platform stated that it will ensure Nigerians have freedom of speech on matters that matters most to them on the app.
The Community Standards also available in Hausa, according to the platform, publicly explain what content is and isn’t allowed on Facebook and Instagram, and cover a number of areas relevant to elections. These include policies on harassment and incitement to violence, as well as detailed hate speech policies that ban attacks on people based on characteristics like ethnicity or religion.
“As Election Day approaches, we will activate a Nigeria-specific Elections Operations Center focused on identifying potential threats across our apps and technologies in real time, accelerating our response time. This initiative will bring together experts from across our company on our intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, public policy and legal teams,” Meta stated.
Combating Misinformation and False News
The Platform said it will remove content that could contribute to imminent violence or physical harm, or that is intended to suppress voting. This includes false news related to voting dates, locations, time and methods.
For the Nigerian elections, based on guidance from local partners, this will specifically include photos and videos shared out of context that falsely depict ballot-stuffing, acts of violence or weapons.
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“For content that doesn’t violate these particular policies, we work with independent fact-checking organisations in Nigeria. When content is rated
“false” or “partly false” by these fact checkers, we attach warning labels to the content and reduce its distribution in Facebook Feed so people are less likely to see it,” Meta said.
The company also stated that it has partnered local radio stations to create “#NoFalseNewsZone” radio dramas in English and Pidgin, and run ads on Facebook and radio in Yoruba, Pidgin, Hausa and Igbo to help Nigerians spot and take action against false news online.
Addressing Virality on WhatsApp
To address viral information , Meta said Whatsapp will continue to limit peoples’ ability to forward messages. It stated that WhatsApp’s ‘Search the Web’ function will also enable people to double-check the text content of messages that have been forwarded many times which means they can find other sources of information about content they have already received.
The platform also shared that people can also control who can add them to group chats and have options to block and report unknown contacts.
Making Political Advertising More Transparent
Advertisers seeking to run adverts related to elections in Meta’s apps in Nigeria must now undergo a verification process to prove who they are and the ads will be labeled with a “Paid for by” disclaimer to show the person behind it.
The company said, “We’ve also introduced new controls so people can choose to see fewer ads about social issues, elections and politics. When people use these controls they’ll no longer see ads that are labeled with the “Paid for by” disclaimer.”
Fighting Election Interference
Meta stated that it has built specialised global teams to stop election interference, focusing on Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour (CIB), when groups of people use sophisticated networks of Pages, groups and accounts to try and manipulate public debate. The platform will remove and publicly share details of any networks of CIB that we identify across our technologies related to the election.
Working with Local Organisations
We are working closely with election authorities, including INEC and other local partners in Nigeria to ensure appropriate preparation for the specific challenges an election brings.
Also, the company said it has engaged with women safety organisations such as TechHer, ElectHer, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, and WIMBIZ to support a range of initiatives that encourage civic engagement.
Encouraging Civic Engagement
Meta said it has supported Yiaga Africa, a non-partisan voter education campaign through a donation to develop a voter education chatbot on WhatsApp to enable people have easy access to accurate information.
The chatbot launched 1, February according to the company will help to provide Nigerian voters with secured information on voting rules, positions up for election, what to expect on voting day and the tools they need to exercise their vote.
“We’ll also have an “I Voted” sticker on Instagram. And on Election Day, we’ll remind people in the country that it’s time to vote with a notification on top of their Facebook Feed as well,” The company added.