Meta rolls out campaign to help tackle misinformation ahead of South Africa’s elections

  • Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has introduced an anti-hate speech and misinformation campaign in South Africa to ensure the integrity of the upcoming election in May 2024. 
  • The company has developed transparency tools, policies against election interference, and the largest third-party fact-checking programme by drawing on its experiences in over 200 elections worldwide.
  • This move comes after the tech giant disclosed in March that it was working closely with South Africa”s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to prevent all its platforms from being weaponised as misinformation tools during the May 29, 2024, elections. 

This campaign is part of Meta’s efforts to ensure that users on its platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, can identify and report content that is intentionally designed to mislead or misinform them, potentially jeopardising the integrity of the upcoming May 29, 2024, election.

Meta is working closely with South Africa’s IEC to develop policies and tools that will help the commission combat misinformation on their platforms in the run-up to the elections. The partnership with the IEC includes media literacy and misinformation detection training for IEC employees. 

Balkissa Idé Siddo, Meta’s public policy director for Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasised that despite having over 40,000 employees dedicated to safety and security, as well as partnerships with local bodies for fact-checking, the positive potential of using AI to achieve this is quite notable, given its ability to improve content-production capabilities, particularly for smaller media outlets.  

Meta, like other social media platforms, has faced accusations of allowing the spread of misinformation to drive traffic. The platform is no stranger to such accusations, so this campaign is essential. Meta was accused of sharing user data with Netflix in April, which it vehemently denied. 

Meanwhile, Meta, Google, and ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, signed a cooperation agreement with the IEC in July 2023. Under this agreement, an independent committee reviews reported cases of misinformation on social media platforms and makes recommendations to the IEC. In February 2023, Meta and Google signed an agreement with the Nigerian government to combat fake news ahead of the Nigerian elections.

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