Facebook, Africa Check Optimize Local Languages to Tackle Fake News

By Adedapo Adesanya

Facebook, in conjunction with Africa Check, announced adding new local language support for several African languages as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme – which helps to assess the accuracy of news on Facebook, and aims to reduce the spread of misinformation.

The social network’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review.

Local articles published will now be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. Simply put, if one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

The platform was launched in 2018 across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon, Facebook has partnered with Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, to expand its local language coverage across Africa.

Across the five countries, Facebook has added these local African languages on its database: In Nigeria, Yoruba and Igbo have been added together with Hausa which was previously supported, Kenya’s national language, Swahili was also added on Facebook’s language support alongside Wolof, spoken in Senegal. A host of South African languages added include Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele.

Speaking on the development, Facebook Africa’s Head of Public Policy, Kojo Boakye,said: “We will 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.”

Noko Makgato, executive director of Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organization, while commenting, expressed joy at the partnership: “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,” he concluded.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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