This week, global social networking platform Facebook gathered journalists and other stakeholders in Lagos for the launch of its Third-Party Fact-Checking Programme in Nigeria. If you’re wondering what this is, it’s simple. Third-Party Fact-Checking helps you assess the accuracy of news in Nigeria which in turn helps reduce the spread of misinformation whilst improving the quality of news people find on its platform. This programme has already been launched in Kenya and South Africa.
To launch this programme, Facebook partnered two organisations, part of a global network of fact-checking and certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network. They are Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, and AFP (Agence France Presse), a well-respected news organisation.
Here’s how the Fact-Checking programme works! Facebook relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. These local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. 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. Quite interesting, don’t you think?
Akua Gyekye, Facebook Public Policy Manager, Anglophone West Africa commented: “Nigeria is important to us and we’re committed to taking
our responsibility seriously in tackling the spread of false news. We know that there is no silver bullet and believe that a multi-pronged approach is the best strategy, and a key solution is identifying and demoting false news. Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as false, we’re able to reduce its future views by an average of 80%, helping to curb economic incentives and reduce its spread.”
Commenting on the partnership David Ajikobi, Africa Check’s Nigeria editor, added: “Nigeria has experienced a surge in misinformation on social media, particularly about health issues not just limited to health risks and disease prevalence but also including purported cures and treatment. The partnership with Facebook presents us as fact checkers a unique opportunity to tackle misinformation on this key platform. We expect that as we move along, millions of Nigerians who get their news through Facebook will start seeing less content that may be socially harmful.”
AFP Global News Director, Michèle Léridon, added: “We are delighted with this new contract with Facebook in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya alongside Africa Check, which is renowned for its fact checking work in Africa. The different initiatives set up by AFP in the fight against disinformation testify to the Agency’s expertise and credibility in the verification of information at a time when false news is proliferating.”