Meta, Wednesday, announced the steps it is taking to protect the integrity of the Nigeria elections taking place in 2023. This includes its efforts to combat the spread of misinformation and to make political advertising more transparent.
This work will continue in the lead up to, during, and after voting and builds on Meta’s experience and learning from supporting elections across Sub-Saharan Africa and globally. Meta’s approach has also been informed by conversations with human rights groups, NGOs, local civil society organisations, regional experts and local election authorities – to help ensure the safety of people using Meta’s family of apps, customise election strategies for Nigeria, maintain the integrity of its platforms and keep users safe.
Commenting at the event, Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze said, “We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections. Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections. We continue to work closely with election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure we’re preparing for the specific challenges in Nigeria and taking appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats.”
According to the technology firm, some of the steps being taken to prepare for the Nigerian elections include:
- A dedicated cross functional team spread across the world as well as locally focused on the Nigerian elections. This includes a number of people from Nigeria and people who have spent significant amounts of time in the country, as we recognise that local understanding is critical. The team also includes individuals with global expertise in misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation. “These teams are working hard to prevent any abuse of our services before, during and after Nigeria’s 2023 general elections. Locally, we also have staff who reside in Nigeria and work in the public policy, & public policy programmes and communications.”
- Keeping people safe: Since 2016 Meta have quadrupled the size of the global teams working on safety and security to about 40,000 people, and have invested more than $16 billion in teams and technology in this area. This also includes over 15,000 content reviewers, who are located across the globe, in every major timezone. Collectively, these reviewers are able to review content in more than 70 languages- including Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.
- Meta also outlines its Community Standards that publicly explain what is and isn’t allowed on its platforms to prioritise integrity on the platforms during and after elections.
- Addressing virality: On WhatsApp, bulk or automated messaging is a violation of Meta’s terms of service. “If we find instances of people misusing the service we remove those accounts. We continue to constrain forwarding and earlier in 2022 we announced that any message that has been forwarded once, will now only be able to be forwarded to one group at a time, rather than five, which was the previous limit. When we introduced the same feature for highly forwarded messages, it reduced the number of these messages sent on WhatsApp by over 70%. We also label ‘forwarded’ and ‘highly forwarded’ messages to highlight when something has been shared multiple times. We’ve introduced forward limits to Messenger too, so messages can only be forwarded to five people or groups at a time.”
- Meta is also taking aggressive steps to fight the spread of misinformation on its services in Nigeria, because it views as important, accuracy in the information people get on Facebook and Instagram. “We’re removing misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm and working with our fact-checking partners in Nigeria – AFP, Africa Check and Dubawa – to review and rate potentially false content on our platforms, label it, and place it lower in our feed, so fewer people see it. To further educate Nigerians on how to spot false news and the actions to take, we’re partnering with local radio stations to create ‘#NoFalseNews’ radio dramas in English and Pidgin, executing a WhatsApp awareness campaign #YouSaid in Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Pidgin to educate users to verify information before sharing and running online ads on Facebook and radio in Yoruba, Pidgin, Hausa and Igbo to educate people on how to spot false information.”
- Making political ads more transparent in Nigeria: Anybody who wants to run political ads in Nigeria must go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria. These ads are labeled with a disclaimer, so viewers can see who paid for them and they are stored in the public Ads Library for seven years, so that everyone can see what ads are running, what types of people saw them and how much was spent. “We also offer controls so that people in Nigeria can choose not to see any of these political ads which run with a disclaimer.”
- Promoting civic engagement: Helping to build informed and civically engaged communities is central to our work around elections. Our dedicated teams have engaged in training and conversations with civil society organisations, academia, political parties and government to inform them of our election integrity efforts.
Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.