Social media giant Facebook says it has added new African language capabilities in its effort to curb misinformation and “fake news” on political issues.
That means that posts shared on Facebook can now be checked for accuracy in Yoruba and Igbo in Nigeria, where Hausa fact-checking already exists. It also adds Wolof in Senegal, Swahili in Kenya, and six South African languages including Afrikaans and Zulu.
The work is done in partnership with Africa Check, the continent’s first independent fact-checking organization. Facebook announced in February that it would be working with Africa Check, as well as Pesa Check in Kenya and Dubawa in Nigeria, to better control the flow of information on the site.
“We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities,” said Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s head of public policy for Africa. “Our third-party fact-checking program is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook.”
Misinformation and hate speech shared on Facebook can inflame communal tensions and social unrest, especially when there’s a dearth of native speakers to evaluate content. Cameroon and Central African Republic are two of the places Facebook has named as targets for improved social media monitoring.
Facebook said in May it had banned 265 accounts targeting African nations from abroad, including Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, as well as Democratic Republic of Congo.
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