Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced some of its plans to manage and control how it is used during the 2023 election cycle.
The firm stated that this includes efforts towards combating the spread of misinformation and making political advertising more transparent. During a media roundtable, it disclosed that its work will continue in the lead-up to, during, and after voting and builds on its experience and learnings from supporting elections across Sub-Saharan Africa and globally.
Some of its plans include mandating a verification method to ensure that anyone who wants to run a political advertisement in the country goes through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in Nigeria.
It said, “These ads are labelled with a disclaimer, so you can see who paid for them and stored them in our 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.”
Speaking 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 have 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.”
She claimed Meta would 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.
Meta revealed that it has a dedicated cross-functional team spread across the world as well as locally focused on the Nigerian elections. It stated that its team is working to prevent any abuse of its services before, during, and after the 2023 general elections.
It added that it has invested $16bn since 2016 in ensuring safety and security on its platform. Speaking on some of its other initiatives, the firm said, “On WhatsApp bulk or automated messaging is a violation of our 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 per cent. 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.”
It added, “We are 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.”