Meta to crack down on fake news, misinformation as Kenya heads to the polls

Meta, formerly Facebook has set up an Elections Operation Centre to help monitor and crack down on fake news and misinformation on its platforms [AP]

Meta, formerly Facebook has set up an Elections Operation Centre to help monitor and crack down on fake news and misinformation on its platforms; Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

In an online publication, Meta revealed that for the last year, the company has been working closely with Kenyan authorities and partners to curb fake news, with eighteen days left before Kenya goes to the polls.

“We’ve been preparing for the country’s 2022 election over the past year with the help of a dedicated team that’s working closely with election authorities and trusted partners in the country. Additionally, we’ve invested in people and technology to help reduce the spread of misinformation, detect and remove hate speech, improve digital literacy and help make political advertising more transparent” it stated.

The firm also clarified that the team is dedicated to the Kenyan election and includes experts from Kenya and people who have spent a significant amount of time in the country, which they believe is critical to understanding the local landscape.

The centre will be in charge of identifying and removing content that violates Meta’s Community standards by use of artificial intelligence, human review and user reports.

“Our Community Standards include strict rules against hate speech, voter suppression, harassment and inciting violence, among others. We’ve also built more advanced detection technology, quadrupled the size of our global team focused on safety and security to more than 40,000 people and hired more content reviewers to review content across our apps in more than 70 languages — including Swahili”. 

So far, the company has taken action on over 37,000 pieces of content for violating its hate speech policies on Facebook and Instagram in Kenya.

Meta is also focused on protecting female public figures and human rights defenders by forming and partnering with local civil society organisations such as Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA), Policy and UN Women.

“We trained women Members of Parliament, aspirants and human rights defenders to utilize our safety tools and resources to ensure a safer experience across our technologies. We also continue to work with participants to further understand the gender-based slurs used online in local languages, with the aim of helping to address these during the elections”

Meta also noted a 70 per cent drop in the number of highly forwarded messages on WhatsApp after its new rules last year that reduced the number of people one can send a forwarded message on the platform to just one chat at a time.