Yesterday, on August 14 2019, Facebook – the popular social media platform announced its partnership with Africa Check – an independent fact-checking organisation to add several local languages including Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Sotho, Afrikaans as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme.
In essence, the focus of this partnership is top combat the spread of fake news in local languages, and to ensure that Africans assess accurate news on Facebook. The social media giant announced in January this year that it will be investing $300 million in local news globally, an investment with the aim of fighting against the spread of misinformation.
Speaking on this, the Facebook Head of Public Policy, Kojo Boakye said, “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. Our third-party fact-checking programme 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. We know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to this.”
Fake news will be tackled in Nigeria using major languages such as Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa; in South Africa, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele; Swahili in Kenya and Wolof in Senegal.
The Executive Director of Africa Check, Noko Makgato commented saying, “We’re thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, it also means we’ll be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information.”
The Facebook Fact-Checking Programme was first launched in Kenya in 2018. With this programme, stories that are identified as fake are moved down the news feed and tagged with warnings that prevent users from reposting or sharing to reduce the dissemination of false news.