Facebook partners with Africa Check, AFP to curb ‘fake news’

Facebook is partnering with Africa Check, Agence France Presse (AFP) to curb fake news among its community users in Nigeria.

Akua Gyekye, the Public Policy Lead, Anglophone West Africa, Facebook said that there was the need to stop false information because of the negative effects on people.

Gyekye said that with the unveiling of the third-party fact checking technique which Facebook started in 2017, the rate of fake news had reduced.

She said that the fact-checker tool was to verify whether an information, picture or video was true.

According to her, Facebook is taking false information seriously and is working to reduce it.

”We want to ensure that our communities of users, especially in Nigeria are informed communities.

”We are working with independent third-party fact-checkers – Africa Check and AFP, to check false information.

”When anything is flagged as false, it will go to our fact-checkers who will review it to check whether it is false or not,” she said.

Gyekye said that Facebook’s fact-checking programme relied on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook used to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review.

She said that if the fact-checking partners identified a story as false, Facebook would show it and downgrade the news feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

”Nigeria is important to us and we are committed to taking our responsibility seriously in tackling the spread of false news.

”We know that there is no silver bullet, and believe that a multi-pronged approach is the best strategy, and a key solution is identifying and demoting false news.

”Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we are able to reduce its future views by an average of 80 per cent, helping to curb economic incentives and reduce its spread,” she said.

Facebook’s Strategic Partner Manager, Media Partnerships, Africa, Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy said that the company was pleased to partner with Africa Check and AFP to expand its fact-checking efforts into Nigeria.

Muhutu-Remy said that the fact-checking programme was recently launched South Africa and Kenya.

”Fighting the spread of misinformation via news articles, photos and videos will help to build a better informed community and help verify the stories flagged by our community in Nigeria,” she said.

Africa Check’s Nigeria editor, David Ajikobi said that Nigeria had experienced a surge in misinformation on social media, particularly about health issues.

Ajikobi said that there had been misinformation on social media on disease prevalence and purported cures and treatment.

”The partnership with Facebook presents us as fact checkers a unique opportunity to tackle misinformation on this key platform.

”We expect that as we move along millions of Nigerians who get their news through Facebook will start seeing less content that may be socially harmful,” he said.

AFP Global News Director, Michele Leridon said that the company was delighted with the new contract with Facebook in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya alongside Africa Check, which was renowned for its fact checking work in Africa.

Leridon said that the different initiatives set up by AFP in the fight against disinformation testify to the agency’s expertise and credibility in the verification of information at a time when false news was proliferating.