WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has made some of its plans to oversee and regulate how it is used during the 2023 election cycle public.
The company claimed that measures were being taken to stop the dissemination of false information and increase the transparency of political advertising.
It revealed during a media roundtable that it will continue to support elections in Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world, building on its expertise and lessons learned from doing so.
One of its initiatives calls for requiring a verification process so that anyone wishing to run a political advertisement in the nation must first confirm their identity and residency in Nigeria.
Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa at Meta, spoke at the occasion and 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 said.
To make sure we’re ready for the typical hitches in Nigeria and taking the necessary action to keep ahead of emerging threats, she asserted that Meta would continue to engage closely with local partners in Nigeria and election authorities in close coordination with them.
Meta disclosed that it has a committed, cross-functional team working on the Nigerian elections both locally and globally. It claimed that its staff is attempting to stop any exploitation of its services before, during, and following the general elections in 2023.
“To further educate Nigerians on how to spot false news and the actions to take, we are partnering with local radio stations to create ‘#NoFalseNews’ radio dramas in English and Pidgin.
“Meta would also be executing a WhatsApp awareness campaign, #YouSaid in Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, and Pidgin to educate users to verify the information before sharing and running online ads on Facebook
“Meta’s approach has also been informed by conversations with human rights groups, NGOs, local civil society organizations, regional experts, and local election authorities – to help ensure the safety of people using Meta’s family of apps,” she said.
She also stated that the company since 2016, has spent $16 billion on platform security and safety. The company stated regarding some of its other activities,
“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 percent. 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.”
She 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.”